Hillbroom allowed to testify at trial from Washington


The U. S. District Court for the NMI has granted the request of the two former lawyers of Junior Larry Hillbroom to question him during the trial on Saipan via contemporaneous transmission from Spokane, Washington.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said the use of the court’s ELMO system—a projector used in courtroom presentations—is acceptable so long as the jury is able to view Hillbroom via video tele-conference at all times during his testimony.

Manglona said the two defendants—David J. Lujan and Barry J. Israel—will be responsible for the costs associated with Hillbroom’s remote testimony, including lodging costs.

The judge said the parties must provide electronic or physical copies of any documents they seek to use during Hillbroom’s testimony.

Hillbroom is suing Israel and Lujan, both of whom are his former lawyers, and his former trustee, Keith Waibel, alleging mismanagement of approximately $90 million that he inherited as heir of Larry Lee Hillblom, a co-founder and former owner of DHL Worldwide Express.

The jury trial in Hillbroom’s lawsuit is currently set for Nov. 19, 2019.

The Vietnam-based Israel recently filed the request to take Hillbroom’s testimony via contemporaneous transmission. Guam-based Lujan joined Israel’s motion.

Hillbroom did not object to testifying remotely, but asked the court to impose safeguards.

Hillbroomn lives in Idaho, which is more than 100 miles from Saipan.

Manglona found that the private location where Hilbroom can testify, as proposed by Israel, is appropriate because the time difference between Saipan and Washington State would make taking testimony at the nearest federal courthouse impractical.

Manglona said she must still adopt appropriate safeguards for testimony taken via contemporaneous transmission.

First, the judge said, the court must ensure that the remote location is able to transmit the testimony.

She said at least one week prior to trial, Lujan and Israel must contact the clerk’s office to arrange an equipment test with the court’s Information Technology personnel.

Second, Manglona said, no person other than the employees necessary to operate the VTC system shall be present in the room with Hillbroom when he is testifying.

Manglona added that no person may be in communication with Hillbroom during his testimony, other than her and the examining attorneys.

Third, the judge said, Lujan and Israel must ensure that Hillbroom will have access to all documents that may be presented during the examination.

Hillbroom, a Palauan, is one of the four DNA-proven children of Hillblom. His name is spelled differently from that of Hillblom. The three other children are Jellian Cuartero, a Filipino; Mercedita Feliciano, a Filipino; and Nguyen Be Lory, a Vietnamese.

Hillblom died in a seaplane crash off Anatahan waters on a flight from Pagan to Saipan on May 21, 1995, leaving behind an estate worth approximately $550 million. The bodies of the pilot and a business partner were found, but Hillblom’s body was never recovered.

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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