McKeown keynotes 24th judicial conference


Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge M. Margaret McKeown was among the presenters at the 24th Annual District Conference held at the Kanoa Resort’s Seaside Hall last Saturday.

McKeown delivered the state of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals address and served as a panelist, along with lawyers Steven Pixley and Catherine Cachero, on the topics of ethics and the organization.

McKeown also talked about the changing ethical landscape in litigation.

In her address, McKeown, who chairs the Ninth Circuit Pacific Islands Committee, talked about the special relationship between the Ninth Circuit and the Pacific jurisdictions of the CNMI, Guam, Palau, and Federated States of Micronesia.

McKeown, who talked about some of the things that the Ninth Circuit is doing in terms of training island judges and lawyers, recounted a recent report of U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona about the CNMI, its culture, the legal landscape here, the lawyers, and some of the judicial issues that they face.

In an interview, McKeown highlighted how busy the Ninth Circuit and the district courts are—too many cases but few judges. “So we are hoping that we will be getting some more appointments as time goes on,” the judge said.

McKeown also talked about the measures the ninth circuit is doing to deal with potential harassment and bullying issues in courts. She said that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Ninth Circuit Judge Sidney R. Thomas recently appointed members of a special ad hoc committee to deal with this issue. McKeown sits on both committees.

“We’re looking at solutions and ideas in making sure that the federal courts have a very healthy and productive work place environment,” she said.

In her presentation on ethics and professionalism, McKeown cited folk and rock songs to illustrate the importance of collegial relationships and the importance of relationship between the court and attorneys.

In particular, she talked about when the attorneys are in dispute over witnesses and documents and how they might think about using mediation as means of settling disputes, as opposed to just using the formal court mechanism.

McKeown is president of the Federal Judges Association, on the board of the ABA Rules of Law Initiative, and chair of the ABA Latin America and Caribbean Council. She was appointed to the Ninth Circuit by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1998. She was a White House Fellow in 1980-1981, serving as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior and special assistant at the White House.

Vince J. Seman gave the opening remarks at the conference and served as moderator.

Manglona, who welcomed the presenters and participants, delivered the state of the District Court address, noting in particular the groundbreaking ceremony last Dec. 7 for the construction of a new courthouse.

Manglona said the Drug Offender Re-Entry Program had its first graduate last December and another one early this year.

In 2017, the judge said, the court extensively revised its local civil rules.

“It is a privilege and pleasure to serve as chief judge for this district, in no small part due to the contributions from everyone who works with or for the court. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to provide justice to our community,” Manglona said.

NMI Bar Association president Charles Brasington talked about the NMI Bar, while Criminal Justice Act committee chair Bruce Berline reported on the CJA panel.

David Addington, senior vice president general counsel, and chief legal counsel of the National Federation and Independent Business, talked about advising small businesses. Addington and David Burger also talked about NFIB, small business issues and taxes.

Guam attorney Nelson Xu discussed types of visas and business immigration law on CW program.

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

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