Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) referred yesterday to two committees House Resolution 22-14, which impeached Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for alleged commission of felonies, corruption, and neglect of duty.
At a press conference in his office, Hofschneider disclosed that he referred the impeachment resolution to the Committee on Judiciary, Government, Law, and Federal Relations, and the Committee on Executive, Appointments, and Government Investigations.
He instructed both Sens. Karl King Nabors (R-Tinian) and Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian), chairpersons of the Committee on Judiciary, Government, Law and Federal Relations, and Committee on Executive, Appointments and Government Investigations, respectively, to review the resolution.
He said he asked the two committees to prepare the Senate for the impending trial of Torres, which schedule will be announced at a later date.
Hofschneider said he signed the memo designating the impeachment document over to the joint committee for review, inclusive of the Senate rules of impeachment for consideration by the full Senate.
He said the impeachment resolution was transmitted to the Senate last Jan. 15.
Hofschneider assured that the Senate will provide both parties an opportunity to present what they have before the Senate and they will go from there.
As to why not just adopt the Senate rules that were drafted in 2013 in the case against then-governor Benigno R. Fitial, Hofschneider said different Senate members are involved this year and that he wants to give an opportunity to the new members to also give some of their views.
He said Nabors and Cruz will be calling their own committee meeting to address some of the rules governing the impeachment process.
The president said the Senate resolution introduced by Sens. Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) and Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) to use the impeachment rules adopted by the Senate in Fitial’s case is going to be automatically assigned to Nabors’ committee.
As to who will act as a presiding judge at the trial, Hofschneider said that is still pending.
“Everything right now is still pending the adoption of the rules because there are some elements of the process on how to approach this in terms of picking the presiding judge or the judge to facilitate the hearing,” he said.
The president said he is going to ask Nabors and Cruz to come back to him as soon as next week to give him a deadline as to when they are going to see a product of the rules.
Hofschneider said they have never gone down this path before and that’s the reason why it is better for them to take this carefully and give opportunities to both sides to present their case.
He said this is a very sensitive issue for everyone in the community. “We’re a small community per se and we need to wait until those dates have been set and the proceedings proceed, then we go from there,” he said.