All five Superior Court judges have recused themselves from hearing CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan’s lawsuit against Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero for the excessive overtime compensation he received during Super Typhoon Yutu recovery.
Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja, and associate judges Wesley Bogdan, Kenneth Govendo, Joseph Camacho, and Teresa Kim-Tenorio all issued orders of recusal in the AG’s lawsuit against the DPS chief.
Naraja stated in his recusal order that there is a conflict of interest and cannot hear the case because Guerrero is his godbrother.
Kim-Tenorio recused herself due to a conflict of interest because she worked with Guerrero in the development of the CNMI Superior Court Drug Court program.
Bogdan, Govendo, and Camacho also claimed there was a conflict of interest in hearing this case but did not go into much detail in their orders.
Manibusan, in his official capacity as attorney general of the CNMI, has filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court against Guerrero for allegedly receiving excessive overtime compensation during the CNMI’s recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu, which hit the CNMI in October 2018.
According to Manibusan, Guerrero was not entitled to overtime compensation; he asked the court to order Guerrero to return all the money he was paid in overtime.
Manibusan claims that Guerrero’s total compensation in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 exceeded his statutory salary of $54,000, which is against the law.
In his lawsuit, as relief, Manibusan is asking the court to issue a judgment of $46,982.96 for recovery of unlawful typhoon premium payments, overtime payments, or extra payments not authorized by law, without valid appropriation, and in excess of the salary ceiling.
The AG also wants the court to order Guerrero to pay pre-judgment and post-judgment interest; costs of suit; and all other relief the court deems appropriate.
Aside from monetary relief, the AG also asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment declaring that the personnel regulations authorizing payment of typhoon emergency premium pay, overtime, and extra pay do not apply to gubernatorial appointees; that the director of Personnel and governor lack the authority to authorize additional compensation except as provided by law; and that compensation in excess of the salary ceiling cannot be authorized except as provided by law.