Judge denies PTSA’s motion to intervene for appeal

‘No longer anything to appeal in Radich couple’s lawsuit’

Citing that there is no longer anything to appeal, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied Tanapag Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by U.S. Navy veteran David J. Radich and his wife, who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the CNMI gun control law.

In an order issued on Friday, Manglona said when the Commonwealth Legislature repealed the law at the heart of the Radich couple’s lawsuit, it rendered moot the case or controversy subject to judicial decision, and essentially made the scope of CNMI gun control a political matter.

“Because the provisions challenged in this lawsuit no longer exist, and the Radiches no longer have anything to enjoin, PTSA no longer has a case into which it can intervene,” Manglona said.

In her March 28 ruling, Manglona declared unconstitutional the CNMI gun control law that prohibits all residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.

In response, the CNMI passed Public Law 19-42, SAFE Act, which removes the ban on possession of handguns and also establishes new rules for transporting and using firearms.

Tanapag Middle School PTSA, through counsel Joseph Horey, then filed a motion to intervene for purposes of appeal in the Radich couple’s lawsuit.

Tanapag Middle School PTSA president A. Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong in his declaration said they oppose the legalization of handguns in the CNMI because these weapons add a new and dangerous threat to the students’ welfare.

Horey argued that if the court’s decision in the Radich couple’s lawsuit is allowed to remain in force without appeal, the PTSA’s ability to protect its interest in the “welfare of children and youth in home, school, and community will this be permanently impeded.”

The Radiches, through counsel David G. Sigale, opposed PTSA’s motion.

Sigale asserted that, as of now, the challenged laws no longer exist because the Commonwealth passed Public Law 19-42, the SAFE Act, following Manglona’s summary judgment ruling, which repealed and/or amended all the laws that the Radich couple had challenged.

In denying PTSA’s motion, Manglona said PTSA cannot do anything more than speculate about potential harms that may or may not come to pass as a result of handguns entering the CNMI, and therefore fails to demonstrate particularized injury.

Second, Manglona said, PTSA cannot show a causal connection between the supposed injury (assuming for the sake of argument that it exists) and this court’s judgment.

Third and most obviously, the judge said, PTSA cannot show a likelihood of redressability.

Manglona said at oral argument, PTSA counsel opined that if the court’s judgment were reversed on appeal, then the Legislature would reinstate the handgun ban.

Manglona said when pressed about what relief PTSA would receive if counsel’s prognostication proved wrong, the only response was that PTSA would seek to elect a Legislature more in line with its values.

The judge said the final problem with PTSA’s argument—really the central problem—is that the lawsuit into which it seeks to intervene was mooted by legislative action.

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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