JGO: Torres’ request for non-NMI judge to hear his lawsuit is absurd

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The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations described as “absurd” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ request to appoint a non-NMI judge to hear his lawsuit against the committee.

In the motion to dismiss Torres’ lawsuit, the JGO, through counsels Brendan Layde and Joseph Taijeron Jr., also opposed the governor’s request for a non-NMI judge to preside in this lawsuit.

“Judges in all jurisdictions are sometimes called upon to adjudicate disputes between the other branches of government. To assert categorically that no judge in an entire jurisdiction, current or former, could do so impartially is frankly absurd. The JGO committee has full faith and confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the CNMI bench, past and present,” Layde and Taijeron state.

In addition, the JGO noted that Torres did not officially file a motion opposing the court’s appointment of former Superior Court associate judge Timothy Bellas as the judge in his lawsuit.

“A request for a different judge to be appointed, like any other request for a court order, must be made by motion. …The governor has filed no such motion,” the lawyers said.

Superior Court clerk of court Patrick Diaz affirmed this with Saipan Tribune, stating that Torres has yet to file an official motion in opposition to Bellas’ appointment.

“The parties need to file a formal motion to disqualify and the court will then set a hearing to hear the motion.  So far, no motion has been filed by either party,” he said.

The JGO motion alleged Torres’ counsel allegedly communicated with the deputy clerk of court of the CNMI Supreme Court on the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2021, seeking to arrange a meeting between Torres and the chief justice.

“The governor intended to influence the Supreme Court to appoint a different judge more to his liking,” the lawyers claim.

The deputy clerk of court denied the request. Following that, on the morning of Dec. 30, 2021, counsel for Torres hand-delivered a letter to the Superior Court clerk of court that asserted that neither Bellas nor any other current or former CNMI judge should serve as judge pro tempore in this matter.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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