A Superior Court judge will hear Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit filed against her by Attorney General Edward Manibusan to stop her from paying the governor, lieutenant governor, and lawmakers the salary increases provided in Public Law 19-83.
Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja set the hearing on May 3.
Larson had asked the court to junk the lawsuit and to disqualify Manibusan as a party to it. She is represented in the case by former AG Matthew T. Gregory and attorney Kimberlyn K. King-Hinds.
Gregory said that Manibusan is suing Larson to have the court essentially declare certain public laws that have raised the salaries of past and present legislatures, lieutenant governors, governors, and judges to be declared unconstitutional.
Curiously, however, Gregory said Manibusan only asks the court for an order declaring that the current members of the Legislature’s salary be returned to the pre-1981 level of $8,000.
He also asserted, among other things, that as the chief legal officer of the CNMI government, the AG is constitutionally mandated to advise and represent the Finance secretary on matters pertaining to Finance.
Gregory noted that these actions by the AG against his client, Larson, raises serious concerns of conflict.
Gregory said Manibusan’s conduct violates the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as he is suing an existing client.
A check with court files on Friday showed that Manibusan has yet to reply to Larson’s motions.
Manibusan’s lawsuit alleges that Public Law 19-83, which provided the salary increases, is unconstitutional because the Advisory Commission that recommended the increase was not validly constituted, and that the increase recommended by the commission for the Legislature exceeded the change in an “accepted price index” since the last time the salary was adjusted.
Manibusan asked the court to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Larson from implementing the law.