Boston-based firm’s $488,882 fee OK’d

Other lawyers' demand for professional services, expenses approved
U.S. District Court for the NMI Bankruptcy Division designated judge Robert J. Faris granted yesterday the NMI Retirement Fund’s Boston-based counsel’s demand for payment of $488,882 for professional services and expenses.

During a brief hearing conducted via video teleconference, Faris also granted all other applications for payment of fees and expenses incurred by the Fund’s Saipan counsel, Braddock Huesman, and other lawyers as well as members of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors who are involved in the Fund’s bankruptcy case.

The judge denied John A. Angello’s request for payment of $378,010 in retirement share and administrative cost.

With the ruling, the Fund will pay $488,882 to the Brown Rudnick law firm; $11,247 to Huesman; $2,341.50 to Colin Thompson, the Saipan-based counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors; and $74,923.33 to Don Jeffrey Gelber, the Hawaii-based counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.

In addition, the Fund has to pay $336.90 in expenses to members of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, and $14,950 to the Office of the U.S. Trustee.

Faris, who presided over the hearing in Hawaii, pointed out that it is rather ironic that the CNMI government is concerned about attorneys’ fees and had this sudden concern about the financial welfare of the Fund when the Fund’s situation was created by the government’s failure to pay its obligations.

Faris asked the U.S. Trustee to act as a clearinghouse when the applications and quarterly fees are paid. He also ordered the U.S. Trustee to prepare an order dismissing the case upon the of Fund’s payments.

The hearing lasted about 30 minutes. Only a few retirees watched the proceeding in the district court.

In an interview after the hearing, Huesman said they agree with the judge that the “real bad actor in this mess” is the CNMI government for its inability and refusal to perform its commitments to retirees.

Assistant attorney general Gilbert Birnbrich said: “We understand the opinion of the judge. We of course disagree. But the most important thing, the bankruptcy case was dismissed on grounds advanced by the Commonwealth and other parties.”

Attorney Stephen Woodruff, co-counsel for unnamed retirees, said Faris made some incisive comments as the judge obviously carefully analyzed the case.

“He is a very smart, razor sharp judge on these issues,” Woodruff said.

He said it’s good that Brown Rudnick’s fee was reduced from the original billing.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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