The CNMI Bar Association is currently evaluating the performance of CNMI Supreme Court Associate Justice Perry B. Inos and Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja and Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, who are all on the ballot in the November general election for retention on the bench.
CNMI Bar Association president Charity R. Hodson said yesterday that the evaluation results will not be tabulated until the deadline for submissions expires tomorrow, Friday.
“Thereafter, we will issue a press release with all the information you have requested,” said Hodson in response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry about the evaluation.
Sending out the evaluation forms posed no problems, Hodson said. The challenge was in getting the evaluation forms back as all Bar Association general membership meetings have been held virtually since the advent of COVID-19. “Generally, the meetings would be held in person and members could just submit their forms at the meeting instead of having to return them in person to the Bar Association office,” she said.
The association has counteracted this challenge, Hodson said, by offering to have the forms picked up by Bar Association executive director Peonie Cabrera from each agency or office, which makes the process easier and more convenient, as well as accepting all evaluations done by email or mail.
Traditionally, only a small percentage of active CNMI Bar members who are based in the Commonwealth take part in the evaluation of the performances of judges and justices.
As an associate justice in the Supreme Court, this will be the first time for Inos to undergo the retention election process. He was previously retained for another six-year term on the bench in 2012 when he was an associate judge in the Superior Court.
This election will be Naraja’s third retention election. In 2007 and 2014, voters backed Naraja’s retention on the bench.
For Govendo, this election is also his third retention. In 2007 and 2014, voters overwhelmingly voted for his retention.
Under a constitutional amendment, the question of whether justices or judges will be retained shall be put to a vote at a general election immediately before the end of that justice’s or judge’s initial term of office.
In 2003, Juan T. Lizama was the first judge in the CNMI to be retained on the bench. Voters rejected the retention of Timothy H. Bellas and Virginia S. Onerheim.