Bid to dismiss impeachment fails


Supporters of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres set up tents outside the Legislature last Friday to show their support. (Kimberly B. Esmores)

Despite a 4-3 majority vote in favor of dismissal that mostly fell along party lines, the motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment filed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres with the Senate still failed to go through last Friday because it lacked the five votes required to grant the motion.

During the special session Friday, all Republican senators—Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian), Sens. Victor Hocog (R-Rota), Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian), and Francisco Cruz (R-Tinian)—voted in favor of granting the motion to dismiss; Sens. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota), Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota), and Edith DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) voted in opposition.

Only seven members were present for the voting as Sens. Vinnie Sablan (R-Saipan) and Justo Quitugua (R-Saipan) were officially recused from the entire impeachment proceedings.

Hofschneider later explained that, although the motion had a majority vote in favor of dismissal, the Senate rules of impeachment require five affirmative votes to grant the motion.

“I would just like to reiterate, with four members voting yes, and three remembers voting no, the required…five affirmative votes to grant dismissal did not meet that threshold. Therefore the motion to dismiss is hereby denied,” he said.

Wth the denial of Torres’ motion, the Senate will now proceed with the impeachment trial on May 13 at 10am.

In a brief statement from the Senate president, he said he voted in favor of the motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment because he found the arguments made by Torres’ counsel, Anthony Aguon, convincing enough to warrant a “yes” vote.

“The motion by the moving party (impeached official’s counsel) provided clear and convincing argument pointing out a few missteps leading up to the passage of the impeachment resolution,” Hofschneider said.

King-Nabors also explained later that his vote to grant Torres’ motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment was in order pursuant to Senate impeachment rules because there was no counter motion and, without a counter motion, Senate members should tender an affirmative vote. 

“I can say that I felt as if my voting to grant the motion to dismiss was in order. In the earlier deliberations of the rules, some members of the lower House and minority members in the Senate pushed back on Senate impeachment rule 5(b) but, by rule 5 (a), the full Senate vote should have been clear enough to grant the motion to dismiss. In this case, there was no opposition, so by the rule, the members should have voted in the affirmative because there was no counter to motion. But, impeachment is a political process, so we must proceed with the hearings, which I look forward to,” he said. 

Torres, who was present at the session with many supporters, said he respects the process and the decision made on his motion, but he also believes his motion should have been granted due to the lack of prosecutors and the lack of evidence to warrant the six Articles of Impeachment.

“I respect that process. I’m just saddened because we’re here to follow rules and regulations, and when there is a trial and the prosecutor is not present, then they dismiss the case. Here, we hear from the Senate that the House [of Representatives] was given opportunities for an extension and has failed to meet all those requirements. Now, again, the House has their own rules and so does the Senate. Now there was no prosecution and just by that notion, [the Articles of Impeachment] should be dismissed. Unfortunately, three voted no and that’s their vote, all we can do now is we move on to the trial,” he said.

Although the motion to dismiss has been denied, DeLeon Guerrero said she is still very disappointed.

“I am extremely disappointed. It’s unfortunate, because we still do see existing, sitting, senators who do have a conflict [in this impeachment proceedings] and it’s very apparent. That’s where the question of code of ethics, and conflict of interests is very clear and there’s been no declaration from these other senators. That’s so unfair for the people of the Commonwealth. We need to have democracy. We need to have justice for the people, and we cannot deny them the right to representation, which is why we need a prosecutor,” she said.

DeLeon Guerrero strongly opposed the hearing from the start because the House of Representatives was barred from the hearing. Although members of the House were present to witness the Senate session, the House of Representatives was prohibited from participating and prosecuting the motion because the selected House impeachment prosecutor, Rep. Corina Magofna (D-Saipan), allegedly failed to timely file an appearance in the matter pursuant to Senate Impeachment Rule 7(a)(2). 

Also, the House clerk failed to submit the House impeachment record in support of the Articles of Impeachment in compliance with Senate Impeachment Rule 9(e). 

Santos, in supporting her vote to deny Torres’ motion, said the motion to dismiss merely points out procedural errors.

“I guess the first window of opportunity for a case to be dismissed is on the legal challenge on procedural mistakes. Perhaps, had the House prosecutors been granted their request to appear as a team or unit of prosecutors for the impeachment trial, then perhaps the House could have been heard by presenting its arguments, including addressing the allegations to the defense’s motion to dismiss,” she said.

Santos further noted that Torres is facing serious offenses and it is all detailed in the House’s impeachment records in support of the Articles of Impeachment and these records need to be heard before the Senate can properly make a decision.

“The six articles [of impeachment] detail the specific charges and offenses for which the official was impeached, which amounted to commission of a felony for theft of utility services, corruption for unlawful first-class and business-class travel, misuse of government resources, neglect of duty for negligence during crises and neglect of duty by contempt of Legislature. These are serious offenses that require presentation of all the facts, hearing of witness testimonies, reviewing transcripts of records, audio recordings and, most importantly, hearing legal arguments by both parties,” she 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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