Disbarred lawyer’s request for lower sentence denied


Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman denied yesterday a request by disbarred lawyer Antonio M. Atalig for a reduced prison sentence in connection with his domestic violence and contempt of court cases.

Atalig concedes that his arguments are time-barred, but said the court should apply an exception to the statutory time limit under a newly proposed construction of time-bar rules.

Wiseman said, however, that he is not persuaded by Atalig’s arguments and denied the motion on procedural grounds.

Wiseman said even if he were to overlook the untimeliness of Atalig’s motion, he is unlikely to grant the requested relief.

Wiseman cited his April 15, 2014, sentence and commitment order on contempt, in which he stated this is a case where the best interests of justice and of this society may be served by imposing the maximum jail term.

The judge said a maximum prison term may have a deterrent effect on Atalig’s life upon his release, and on potential offenders who don’t take court orders seriously and think nothing of violating them, and will serve as the retribution that society demands.

In the April 15, 2014 order, Wiseman sentenced Atalig to an additional prison term of six months without parole and a $100 fine. The sentence is to be served consecutively, which means this is on top of the sentence imposed on Atalig in connection with a domestic violence case.

Atalig had pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery (domestic violence) and was sentenced to one year in prison, all suspended except for 40 days. He was given credit for 40 days of time served.

Attorney Robert Myers, counsel for Atalig, filed a motion last year requesting the court to reduce the sentence, asserting that Atalig maintained good behavior while in jail and that he was sufficiently rehabilitated.

Then-assistant attorney general Margo Brown-Badawy opposed the motion.

Wiseman heard the motion last Sept. 17. The judge tentatively denied the motion pending a written decision. He issued the written order yesterday, denying the motion.

In May 2012, Wiseman suspended Atalig and Reynaldo O. Yana from practicing law in the CNMI for refusing to return $1.1 million in attorneys’ fees that the two obtained from the Malite estate. In January 2014, the CNMI Supreme Court disbarred the two lawyers.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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