Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas disclosed yesterday that Chief Prosecutor Shelli Neal will be re-assigned to the Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Division as part of the OAG’s ongoing restructuring and reorganization.
In a news briefing, San Nicolas said that Neal will remain chief prosecutor of the OAG’s Criminal Division until Monday, Feb. 3.
San Nicolas did not say what specific assignments will be given to Neal at the OAG’s Civil Division.
He said he will soon announce who will be the new chief prosecutor, and that at a later date he will also name an interim chief prosecutor and interim first assistant.
“Ms. Neal is a committed, hardworking prosecutor. I value Ms. Neal’s experience and her strong background in the prosecution field. She will be a great asset to the Civil Division and we look forward to her move there,” San Nicolas said.
It was San Nicolas who appointed Neal as chief prosecutor in April 2013. The then-chief prosecutor, Peter Prestley, was reassigned to the OAG’s Civil Division.
San Nicolas disclosed that they commissioned the Guam’s Office of the Attorney General to evaluate and assess the CNMI’s OAG.
He said that based on the assessments and evaluation of a team of officials from the Guam OAG that was on island recently, recommendations were laid down on how to move forward with the restructuring and reorganization.
San Nicolas said the next step is Neal’s reassignment to the Civil Division.
At a hearing last November, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho expressed concern that the OAG’s Criminal Division needs to be “fixed” when the prosecution moved to dismiss a burglary case against a habitual offender three days before the start of the jury trial.
San Nicolas also revealed that a series of changes will be forthcoming in anticipation of the upcoming November general election that will result in the first ever elected AG.
He said he has taken the initiative to restructure and reorganize OAG for a smooth transition to an elected AG, who will take office in 2015.
San Nicolas began the restructuring at the Civil Division when he appointed Gilbert Birnbrich as chief of that division. In addition, he assigned additional responsibilities to Carla Torres, who currently handles grants, as the OAG’s public information officer.