Landowner Conrad M. Sablan contends that the Office of the Attorney General’s motion to have Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho disqualified from presiding over his lawsuit is “scandalous, frivolous, and made in bad faith.”
The OAG filed the motion to disqualify Camacho from handling the case on the sixth day of a bench trial in Sablan’s lawsuit against the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and the CNMI government,
In Sablan’s opposition to the CNMI government’s motion to disqualify Camacho, his lawyer, Brien Sers Nicholas, said that levying “such reckless accusations” against the judge “is totally unacceptable,” especially when the case is one day short of being completed.
Sers Nicholas said that the CNMI has known of Camacho’s familial relationships and the cases involving his family for quite some time before the start of the trial in Sablan’s lawsuit before the judge, and yet did nothing about it.
Citing conflict of interest, the CNMI government, through the OAG, moved to disqualify Camacho from presiding over the bench trial in Sablan’s lawsuit.
Christopher M. Timmons, chief of the OAG Civil Division, argued that Camacho’s impartiality might be questioned because Sers Nicholas represents the judge’s brother and grandmother in a similar lawsuit against the same defendant, the CNMI.
Timmons said the separate lawsuit involving Camacho’s brother, Claudio Norita, and grandmother, Julia Norita, presents legal issues that the judge will be required to decide in Sablan’s case.
But in Sablan’s opposition to the OAG’s motion, Sers Nicholas emphasized that this simple but yet undisputed fact that the CNMI’s knowledge has been there for some time without being acted upon until one/two days before the end of the Sablan trial is proof positive that there was nothing in the first place that would warrant Camacho’s disqualification.
Sers Nicholas said the CNMI, citing the 2018 lawsuit filed by Camacho’s grandmother and brother, claims that the judge’s family has raised legal issues relating to the proper determination of dates of taking and land valuation, each of which may be affected by Camacho’s evidentiary rulings and his decision in the Sablan case.
This is complete nonsense, Sers Nicholas said.
He said the arguments presented by the CNMI are not only self-serving of the highest order but are “most definitely frivolous and in bad faith” deserving of contempt citations against Timmons and the OAG.
Sers Nicholas said at the time Sablan’s case was filed with the court in 2015, he (Sers Nicholas) was already representing Claudio Kotomar Norita and Julia Norita in a case pending before the court since 1998.
The 1998 lawsuit brought by Claudio and Julia Norita seeks compensation against the CNMI for the taking of Julia Norita’s land as part of the Chalan Pale Arnold Road in Tanapag.
Nicholas said the 2018 lawsuit by Julia Norita, represented by Claudio Norita, is an “independent action” wherein she is seeking to be relieved from then-Associate David A. Wiseman’s determinations in the 1998 lawsuit.
The 2018 lawsuit is pending before the court for the second time after having been first dismissed. Guam Alberto C. Lamorena III has been appointed to preside over the 2018 lawsuit as all judges, including Camacho, recused themselves.
Sers Nicholas said that Camacho’s recusal put Timmons on notice of the familial relationship between Julita Norita and Camacho some 101 days before the start of the trial in Sablan’s case. Yet Timmons did not do anything whatsoever about Camacho continuing to preside over the Sablan case.