AT THE INVESTITURE CEREMONY
Wesley M. Bogdan officially assumed the post of Superior Court associate judge yesterday in an investiture ceremony at the CNMI Supreme Court that saw him joining the Judiciary family.
In his judicial address, Bogdan said it is an honor and privilege to serve on the bench. Although not historically from the CNMI, he said he is proud to call the Commonwealth home.
Bogdan, 59, recounted how leaving behind his work at the Office of the Governor and assuming the position of an associate judge as bittersweet. It meant leaving a place where he had great friendships and experiences, including representing the CNMI in the most recent Covenant Section 902 consultations.
“More than anything, it has been a privilege to see the torch of leadership and responsibility passing to the younger generation of local Chamorro and Carolinians and to people like myself, who might not historically be from the CNMI, but who live here, love it here, and proud to call the CNMI home,” said the judge in his remarks.
Bogdan said he truly believes that the Senate’s confirmation process reflects the character of all the people of the CNMI and proves “what a great community we have.”
He thanked Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for nominating him to the bench and the Legislature for confirming him to the post. He also expressed appreciation to the Judiciary.
“I sincerely thank all the people of the CNMI,” Bogdan added.
The judge also recalled how he met his wife, Tomoko, at a beach on Saipan and expressed appreciation for his father-in-law, Nobuhisa Kawakata, who flew from Japan to attend the ceremony.
In a later interview, Bogdan sees a lot of work ahead as a judge but also a lot of fantastic opportunity. He believes a lawyer needs a lot of experience to be a good judge.
“The more you’ve been able to accomplish in the past, the better it prepares you for the bench,” he said.
As to what cases he will handle, Bogdan said they have a rotation process, in which they have been assigned some type of cases and share the cases with the other judges.
Bogdan noted that the Superior Court has a huge caseload as the court only has four judges, about a year and a half after David Wiseman retired as a judge. He said the backlog would need to be taken cared of.
In his remarks, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro stressed the important role of judges. “There is no liberty if the power of judging is not separated from the legislative and executive powers,” Castro said, quoting Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Castro said that judges interpret the law, weigh the evidence presented, and control how hearings and trials unfold in their courtrooms. But most importantly, Castro said, judges are impartial decision makers in the pursuit of justice.
In his brief remarks, Torres said one can always trust Bogdan’s judgment.
Torres cited Bogdan’s contribution as his then-legal counsel and senior policy adviser, particularly with respect to military affairs, assisting with the location and construction of the U.S. Air Force’s Divert Project and the U.S. Marine Corps CNMI Joint Military Training Project.
Torres’ chief of staff, Matthew O. Deleon Guerrero, said he learned much from working with Bogdan about service and integrity toward a greater goal.
“To me, Wes epitomizes the essence of public service—fighting for what is right even in the face of great challenges and oversized adversaries, and doing so with a firm understanding and appreciation for the trust that is placed on each and every public servant,” Deleon Guerrero said.
In his closing remarks, Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja shared the four principles that he tries to apply each and every time he is in court or in chambers: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.
“By observing these principles you will be an extremely successful judge. I really look forward to working with you. You are a fantastic addition to our team,” Naraja said.