Former CNMI Attorney General Maya B. Kara passed away Friday morning at her home on Capital Hill after a long battle with cancer. She was 76.
Kara served as the CNMI attorney general from 1998 to 2000 and served several times as president of the NMI Bar Association.
“She was my best friend. We were together for 43 years,” said Kara’s husband, Bruce Mailman, in a phone interview last night.
Kara and Mailman have three children.
He said that Kara spent a year in Honolulu to get treatment soon after was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
Mailman said they’re going to have a public viewing Wednesday next week, at 9am at the Borja Funeral Home for an hour before the cremation.
Mailman said that Kara was instrumental in the development of the law of the CNMI.
Mailman said he and Kara arrived together on Saipan on Feb. 17, 1989, where she worked as counsel for the CNMI House of Representatives. After a while, he said, Kara became the chief legal counsel for the CNMI Legislature, a position that she held for nine and a half years.
Kara then served as acting attorney general. She became counsel for then-governor Pedro P. Tenorio in the latter’s third and last term.
Kara also served as counsel for then-lieutenant governor Diego Benavente, as an administrative hearing officer for the CNMI Department of Labor, and also as an administrative hearing officer for the NMI Retirement Fund.
Kara and Mailman’s law firm is a known expert in immigration matters and the couple periodically wrote a column for Saipan Tribune on immigration issues.
At a naturalization ceremony in August 2014 at the U.S. District Court for the NMI, Kara served as a guest speaker during which she shared her remarkable immigrant story that landed her in New York as a political refugee at age 11 when she and her family escaped to the West from Hungary.
Kara spent her childhood in Hungary, a small country in central Europe. At that time, during the Cold war, Hungary was under the rule of the Soviet Union.
Kara became a U.S. citizen at 18.
Janet H. King said yesterday that Kara provided her some guidance and inspiration as a young lawyer.
King said she will always remember Kara for her brilliant legal mind, and her devotion to her family and her service to the Commonwealth.
“My condolences to Bruce and the family on Maya Kara’s passing,” she said.