AAG: Statement on lobbying has no negative implications


Assistant attorney general David Lochabay has stated that there are no negative implications to be drawn from his previous statement that “historically, persons with judgments and other claims against governments have lobbied for private bills to pay them.”

Lochabay said there is certainly no implication that “only well-connected and influential parties are able to enforce their monetary judgments against the Commonwealth.”

Lochabay discussed yesterday his prior statement in response to Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho’s order on Monday, setting a status conference to hear, among other issues, the parties’ arguments on the implications of OAG’s statement that to get payments from court judgments against the government, persons can lobby to lawmakers or avail of tax offsets program.

Camacho asked the parties in the lawsuit filed by couple Jotonia B. Aguon and Timothy Cruz to attend the status conference on Feb. 16, 2016 at 1:30pm.

In the government’s response yesterday, Lochabay pointed out that in his statement he used the word “historically” so it means that it was not directed at the Commonwealth, but is a broad statement of how claims against governments were resolved in the past.

He said it has been settled law for more than 150 years that courts are powerless to enforce judgments against governments.

Lochabay said the Commonwealth is a small community where many citizens know their elected representatives.

“If the people pressure legislators to pay these judgments, upon pain of not being reelected if they don’t, they will get paid,” he said.

This, Lochabay pointed out, is not a heartless argument that aggrieved parties should be left on their own to collect their judgments.

“It is merely an acknowledgment of existing law that prevents the court from assisting these people, together with the long history of democratic legislators responding to the needs of their constituents,” he said.

On Camacho’s question whether oral arguments are necessary as to the supplemental briefs that the parties have filed, Lochabay said the government sees no point at this time.

He said this matter was argued thoroughly for over two hours at the initial hearing on Aguon’s motion for order in aid of judgment, later consolidated with a lawsuit filed by Gorjonny Camacho against the government.

Lochabay said there are no factual disputes before court.

He said it is undisputed that plaintiffs hold judgments against the Commonwealth that are unpaid due to failure to appropriate sufficient funds to pay them.

He said only issues of law are before the court and deciding them is the sole and exclusive province of the court.

“That being the case, sworn testimony from witnesses would not be of any assistance to the court,” Lochabay said.

Aguon and Cruz are holding a $35,000 judgment against the government over the death of their child during delivery in 2012 at the Commonwealth Health Center.

Gorjonny Camacho is holding a $10,000 judgment against the government for his medical malpractice lawsuit.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.