Judge rules Camacho’s suit vs DPS shall proceed


The Superior Court denied Monday the Department of Public Safety’s motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by police major Lawrence M. Camacho against DPS.

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho ruled that the suit shall proceed forward after ruling that Camacho has alleged sufficient facts to establish that DPS is the proper party to this lawsuit.

Lawrence Camacho, a 25-year veteran of the CNMI police force, sued DPS and the Civil Service Commission for allegedly not selecting him to a higher position despite being the only one qualified for the post.

DPS, through the Office of the Attorney General, had asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

In denying DPS’s motion, Judge Camacho said that Lawrence Camacho went through the process required by the Personnel Service System Rules and Regulations and the Civil Service Act.

The judge said that DPS has failed to show that Camacho’s grievance is not subject to judicial review or that his grievance does not meet the procedural requirements for jurisdiction.

Thus, Judge Camacho said, the court has subject matter jurisdiction.

As the complaint concerns DPS’ failure to address or settle the grievance and DPS’ failure to use proper promotion procedures, it is an agency whose action is within the scope of judicial review, the judge said.

In DPS’ motion, assistant attorney general Tom Schweiger said that Camacho’s first claim against DPS is that then-DPS commissioner James Deleon Guerrero did not respond to his Aug. 17, 2015, letter.

Schweiger said Camacho states no statute, regulation, or case law which determines what “timely” means.

Schweiger said this claim is not a factual allegation but rather a legal conclusion.

Schweiger said CSC, the party responsible for the improper promotion and selection procedures that Camacho alleges has been dismissed from his court action.

He said Camacho cannot now try and hold another party responsible.

In his opposition to DPS’ motion, Camacho, through counsel Robert Torres, asserted, among other things, that fairness matters in the merit promotion program because when employees leap-frog over others, even those that are not jumped are negatively affected.

“Fairness matters in the merit promotion program because failing to follow the rules in promotion procedures may also lead to corruption within an organization,” the lawyer said.

Judge Camacho already dismissed CSC as a co-defendant in the separate discrimination lawsuits filed by Lawrence Camacho and Police Sgt. Jason T. Tarkong.

Judge Camacho issued the dismissal after Maj. Camacho and Tarkong, through Torres, and CSC, through counsel assistant attorney general Michael Witry, filed a stipulation to the partial dismissal of the cases.

The stipulation resolves CSC’s role in the cases. It means that DPS is the remaining defendant in the lawsuit.

Tarkong, also a veteran of the CNMI’s police force, also filed the same petition against DPS and CSC for alleged discriminatory practices as to hiring and promotions after he was not promoted to the rank of a sergeant.

Judge Camacho dismissed Tarkong’s lawsuit last March after Tarkong and DPS agreed to drop the case as the underlying grievance has been resolved. Tarkong was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

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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