Arriola: Kara has no authority to function as Attorney General • Lawyer describes governor’s withdrawal of her appointment as a ‘sham’ By MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN
Maya Kara violates the CNMI Constitution by continuing to perform the duties and functions of the Attorney General despite the Senate’s rejection of her nomination and the governor’s withdrawal of her appointment, lawyer Joseph Arriola said Friday.
Arriola also questioned why Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio has allowed Kara to stay in the Attorney General’s seat and receive the annual salary of $70,000 despite the absence of lawful appointment.
“The Governor’s continued appointment of Maya Kara … immediately after the withdrawal and continued appointment for more than a year gives rise to conclusion that the withdrawal was a sham,” Arriola said.
Kara was appointed by the governor on July 2, 1998 and has since assumed office in an acting capacity. When the Senate rejected her nomination, the governor withdrew the appointment on Sept. 23, 1998.
Arriola said Kara’s “acting capacity” should have expired on Oct. 22, 1998 by virtue of a constitutional provision which states that “if the appointment is not confirmed by the Senate within 90 days from the date the person was temporarily appointed, the appointment shall automatically terminate, the position shall become vacant, and the person nominated shall not be renominated.”
“Maya Kara devised a scheme to have herself [appointed] Attorney General without Senate’s confirmation and hence circumventing the constitutional requirement of Senate,” said Arriola, a private attorney who is also serving as legal counsel to the Senate.
Arriola raised the issue in pushing for the dismissal of the illegal gambling charges filed by the AGO against his clients, Cheung Ping Yin, Pierre Lam, Qi Ling Dong, Wu Quian, Juan Aquino, Zhi Yi Zhang, Xian Zhong Wu, Zheng Wen Hu and Zhen Shu Zheng, who were all charged in connection with the government’s anti-gambling raid on the former Abracadabra Shop last July 3.
Arriola maintained the agency cannot prosecute any criminal case in the absence of a “lawfully appointed” attorney general.
The CNMI has been without a permanent attorney general since Richard Weil’s resignation in 1995. All other attorneys subsequently named to that position served in acting capacity.
After Weil’s resignation, then Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio appointed Sebastian Aloot, who was later replaced by Robert Dunlap. When Dunlap left the AG’s office to pursue private practice, he was succeeded by Loren Sutton.
Sutton resigned early last year to work as legal counsel for Tinian Mayor’s Office.
Sally Pfund was temporarily named as Sutton’s replacement, before the incumbent governor nominated Kara.