The CNMI’s three remaining Superior Court judges have recused themselves from hearing the complaint filed by Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) and two CNMI residents against the Senate.
Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja and associate judges Joseph Camacho and Wesley Bogdan officially filed over the weekend their recusal orders in the complaint and temporary restraining order filed by Manglona and CNMI residents Carmen Patricia Deleon Guerrero and Bruce Lee Jorgensen against the Senate.
According to Naraja, he recuses himself due to conflict of interest because of his close familial ties to plaintiff Deleon Guerrero.
In Bogdan’s order, he declared a conflict of interest because he previously served as counsel for Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian), who previously served as lieutenant governor, and for his longstanding friendship with plaintiff Jorgensen.
As for Camacho, he recused himself due to conflict of interest but he did not disclose his reason.
Associate judges Kenneth Govendo and Teresa Kim-Tenorio had already filed their recusal orders last Wednesday, also declaring conflict of interest.
As previously seen in other cases involving Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the Legislature, because all CNMI judges have recused themselves from this case, the case will be heard by a judge from outside the CNMI. However, as of press time, no judge has been appointed yet.
Last Friday, Saipan Tribune learned that the complaint and TRO taken out by Manglona and his co-plaintiffs had been given to Camacho since late last Thursday afternoon.
However, as of 10am last Friday, Camacho had yet to review the case material and the Senate proceeded with the impeachment proceedings against Gov. Ralph DLG Torres as scheduled.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Manglona and his co-plaintiffs filed a pro se complaint against the CNMI Senate in Superior Court over violations the chamber allegedly made throughout the impeachment process.
Through the complaint, Manglona and his co-plaintiffs sought relief in the form of a TRO to temporarily suspend the impeachment proceedings until the complaint is resolved.
The pro se plaintiffs officially filed the motion for a TRO last Thursday.
In addition, the plaintiffs wanted the court to issue an order enjoining the Senate to amend its rules to allow the House of Representatives to appoint up to five prosecutors to take part in the impeachment proceedings, and to enjoin the Senate to allow the House of Representatives to fix their impeachment records for submission.
Named as defendants in this lawsuit are Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), and Sens. Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian), Victor Hocog (R-Rota), Francisco Cruz (R-Rota), Vinnie Sablan (R-Saipan), and Justo Quitugua (R-Saipan).
Manglona and his co-plaintiffs have filed five causes of actions to sue Republican members of the Senate on the grounds of violations of the Open Government Act, violations of the CNMI Constitution, breach of constitutional duty, and alleged deprivation of due process and civil rights.