IN HIS REQUEST FOR COURT-APPOINTED COUNSEL
The federal court granted yesterday Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig’s unopposed request to file under seal his financial affidavit and declaration in support of his motion for the court to appoint counsel to represent him in his criminal case.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said “upon good cause shown,” she grants Atalig permission to file his financial affidavit and declaration under seal.
In his request to seal, Atalig, through private counsel David G. Banes, said he plans to file a motion to appoint counsel under the Criminal Justice Act program and to include a financial affidavit and/or a declaration that discusses confidential personal financial information.
Banes said he has informed counsel for the U.S. government of Atalig’s intent to move for appointed counsel.
He said the U.S. government prosecutor has indicated that CJA appointment eligibility is a matter between the court, Atalig, and his counsel.
Last December, Atalig, through his private counsel Denny Nie, informed the court that he may be eligible for a court-appointed counsel.
Nie and Banes are lawyers of the O’Connor, Berman, Horey, and Banes law firm that Atalig hired as his private counsel.
Nie asked the court for the release of Atalig’s previous financial disclosure affidavit to their law firm due to changes in the mayor’s financial status.
Last September, Manglona determined that the mayor is not eligible for a court-appointed counsel. This prompted Atalig to hire the O’Connor law firm to represent him.
In federal court, Atalig and his girlfriend, Evelyn M. Atalig, are indicted with five corruption charges for arranging CNMI government-funded trips to California, Republic of Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.
The Ataligs pleaded not guilty of all charges.