The Superior Court has denied Sen. Paul Manglona (D-Rota) and a local taxpayer’s motion to intervene in Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’s lawsuit against the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, rendering moot the temporary restraining order they had sought to prohibit Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) from proceedings with the vote on Torres’ motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment today.
In an order yesterday, judge pro tempore Timothy Bellas said the motion filed by Manglona and Patricia Deleon Guerrero to intervene is denied because it did not meet the requirements of both Permissive Intervention and Intervention of Right.
“Although the court is mindful that the movants are pro se litigants and the court overlooks some stylistic deficiencies, it cannot overlook deficiencies in the requirements contained in Rule 24 which the movants rely on. The final sentence of Rule 24 states: ‘The motion must state the grounds for intervention and be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for which intervention is sought.’ The motions do not meet this requirement for intervention, as they contain no separate pleading which sets out the claims or defenses that are involved in the underlying action,” Bellas said.
Because the motion to intervene was denied, the motion for a temporary restraining order was deemed moot.
With that, Manglona said in a statement last night that he and other taxpayers are looking into filing a taxpayer lawsuit in the event the Articles of Impeachment are dismissed.
“Unfortunately, our TRO in an existing case with Judge Timothy Bellas did not go through. We’ll be discussing our next option with various people, including generous lawyer friends, who are, like us, concerned about our people getting a fair and impartial impeachment hearing. We are looking at filing a taxpayer lawsuit. All the people are asking for justice. No matter how popular a governor is, whether he won by a slim margin or a landslide, he, along with everyone else is not above the law,” Manglona said.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the governor’s motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment today.
Bellas explained that the movants, in support of their motion to intervene and related motions, cited Rule 24 of the CNMI Rule of Civil Procedure, which governs intervention of a party as either a permissive right to intervene or as a matter of right. However, the motions do not contain any factual evidence that supports intervention, he said.
Bellas cited as an example that there is no statute cited that authorizes either a “conditional” or “unconditional” right to intervene.
“One of the movants is a sitting senator of the CNMI Senate, and, as such, the motions seem to suggest that the basis of the intervention is based on the language in Rule 24 which reads: ‘On timely motion, the court may permit a federal or state governmental officer or agency, a governmental officer or agency of a territory subject to United States jurisdiction, or a governmental officer or agency of the Commonwealth to intervene if a party’s claim or defense is based on: a statute or executive order administered by the officer or agency; or any regulation, order, requirement, or agreement issued or made under the statute or executive order,” he said.
However, aside from meeting the requirement that one of the movants is a CNMI government officer, there is nothing in the motions that indicate that either the governor’s claim or the JGO’s defense is based on a statute administered by the movant.
Also, Bellas noted that the motions request injunctive relief against the Senate and the Senate president but they are not parties in the action taken by Torres against the JGO, so relief is beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
Bellas also added that to allow intervention based on the motions would unnecessarily delay the initial lawsuit in which Manglona wishes to intervene.