Bellas to issue written decision in Torres’ suit vs JGO


After hearing the arguments and briefs submitted by both parties, judge pro tempore Timothy Bellas took under advisement the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres over its decision to hold him in contempt.

During a hearing yesterday at the Superior Court, Bellas told the parties and those in attendance that he does not enjoy the position he is in, having to settle a dispute between the Legislature and the Executive Branch, but because of the significance of the matter he must and would take the matter into advisement before issuing his written decision.


“The court does not relish being in this position having to arbitrate this dispute between the executive and the legislative branches. However, sometimes it’s what judicial officers have to do. The significance of the issue requires that I take the matter under advisement and issue a written decision as to what will happen to this lawsuit,” he said.

Torres did not appear during yesterday’s hearing, but was represented by his lawyers: Gil Birnbrich, Joseph Horey, Richard Miller, and Washington D.C.-based Ross Garber.

Brendan Layde and Joseph Taijeron represented the JGO committee, whose members were present during the court proceedings.

In a statement from Layde after the hearing, he said it is unfortunate that the court was placed in the middle of the two branches’ disagreement, but he has faith in the court and its ability to decide on the matter.

“We agree with the court that it’s unfortunate that the Judiciary was placed in this position of having to arbitrate between the legislative and the executive branches. We also do not relish the Judiciary having been placed in this position, but we have faith in judge Bellas’ acumen and it will be very interesting to see how this moves forward procedurally as well as what the collateral consequences will be for the other related proceedings,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a written statement from one of Torres’ counsels, Birnbrich, he believes that the arguments they have made in opposition to the JGO’s motion to dismiss are strong and they look forward to moving ahead to the next phase of the case.

“The issues presented in the case are certainly unprecedented in the CNMI. Never before has an ordinary committee of a house of the Legislature attempted to subpoena a sitting governor and force him to appear before them. It was clear that judge Bellas had thoroughly read the parties’ briefs and thoughtfully reviewed the issues. We thank judge Bellas for allowing our off-island counsel, Ross Garber, to participate remotely and wish to thank the court staff in making it happen.  The governor and his legal team also acknowledge the professionalism of judge Bellas and opposing counsel at the hearing on defendant’s motion to dismiss,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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