Associate Judge David A. Wiseman gave the Office of the Public Auditor until July 18 to submit its response to Fitial’s motion to dismiss the charges.
Fitial was given until July 22 to reply to OPA’s response.
A hearing on the motion will be held on July 23 at 1:30pm.
Fitial, 68, came to court walking with a cane. He was assisted by his wife, Josefina. Some family members, relatives, and supporters watched the brief hearing.
In an interview with reporters after the hearing, Fitial’s counsel, Stephen Nutting, reiterated their position in the written motion that the Legislature had no authority to grant the public auditor the power to prosecute a criminal complaint, especially when that power is afforded by the CNMI Constitution to the attorney general.
In a separate interview, OPA legal counsel George L. Hasselback said he disagrees with the assertions made in Fitial’s motion to dismiss, but that they will be researching the questions of law it brought up and draft a response for the court.
At yesterday’s hearing, Nutting handed Wiseman Fitial’s statement of rights and waiver of extradition proceedings.
In that statement and waiver, Fitial said he understands that by waiving his right to formal proceedings as a condition of his release, he is agreeing to voluntarily return to the CNMI without the necessity of any extradition proceeding.
“I understand that by waiving extradition, I may be held in custody by law enforcement in any another state, territory of other foreign jurisdiction, including but not limited to the Republic of the Philippines’ law enforcement agencies until authorities from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands comes to get me to bring me back to the Commonwealth to face the charges presently pending,” Fitial said.
The former governor said the waiver is not an admission of guilt. He said he merely agrees to return to the CNMI with any peace officer who may be sent to take him to the CNMI for trial in the case.
OPA’s complaint charges Fitial with 13 criminal charges related to the unauthorized release of a federal inmate, award of a sole-source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract, the shielding of former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham from being served with penal summons, and the execution of a power purchase agreement contract related to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.