‘More evidence needed in deed of gift’s authenticity’


Superior Court pro tempore judge David A. Wiseman has ruled that, so far, the evidence leaves too many unanswered questions and ambiguity to determine whether or not the deed of gift of land in connection with Sen. Paul A. Manglona’s (Ind-Rota) lawsuit against his siblings is a forgery.

Wiseman said he wants to resolve the ambiguity but feels he has to wait until Paul Manglona’s siblings have presented their case.

“The court finds that there is still evidence and testimony to be heard,” said the judge in his order Friday denying the defendants’ motion for a judgment on partial findings.

That means the bench trial in Paul Manglona’s lawsuit shall continue on July 24, 2018.

The defendants in this case are Priscilla M. Torres, Thomas A. Manglona, Vincent A. Manglona, and associate justice John A. Manglona.

The deed of gift purported to transfer Bernadita A. Manglona’s interest in the land to Paul Manglona on July 11, 1985. Bernadita Manglona is the deceased mother of the Manglonas.

Paul Manglona is suing his siblings over the 4,181-square-meter property on Upper Capital Hill. The senator asked the court to declare him the owner of the property by virtue of the 1985 deed of gift.

Priscilla Manglona Torres and Thomas A. Manglona, co-administrators of the estate of their late mother, asserted that Paul Manglona does not inherit entirely the disputed land as their mother’s signature in the document had been forged.

A bench trial was held last February. At the close of Paul A. Manglona’s case, defendants moved for a judgment on partial findings.

A judgment on partial findings permits a judge to make findings of fact adverse to the plaintiff, including credibility determinations after hearing all the evidence, and without the need for the defendants’ case.

In his order Friday, Wiseman said after reviewing the testimony and exhibits, the court finds that it is appropriate to make a judgment on partial findings.

Wiseman said the defendants presented compelling testimony from their handwriting expert, Reed C. Hayes, regarding the inconsistencies and differences between the signature of the 1985 deed of gift and the exemplars of Bernadita Manglona’s signatures.

The exemplars included a driver’s license, U.S. passport, bank signor card, collateral receipt, notarized deeds and leases, copies of checks and corporate filings for a family-held corporation.

Hayes concluded that Bernadita Manglona did not sign the deed of gift based on his analysis of slants, loops, T-crosses, proportions of letters, line quality, and letter spacing.

Wiseman said Paul Manglona’s witnesses were inconsistent, unwilling to cooperate, and were at times unresponsive.

Specifically, Wiseman said, Paul Manglona’s testimony regarding his father’s illness and a November 2010 draft deeds raised more questions than it gave answers.

Wiseman noted that Charles Manglona’s testimony about their mother’s signatures was inconsistent and Prudencio Manglona Jr.’s testimony was evasive.

However, the judge said, the court recognizes that Charles and Prudencio Manglona Jr. testified against their own potential interest in the land.

Wiseman said defendants have yet to clearly and convincingly prove to the court that the deed of gift is a forgery.

With respect to issues of laches, adverse possession, and slander that the senator raised, Wiseman said he comes to a similar conclusion.

Wiseman said these issues have not been fully litigated and judgment would be premature.

The trial was suspended last February after Wiseman heard attorney Samuel Mok’s motion for judgment for partial findings.

Mok, who is counsel for siblings Priscilla A. Torres and Thomas A. Manglona, made the motion shortly after attorney Mark Scoggins, counsel for Paul Manglona, informed the court that they rest their case after the senator completed his testimony.

Wiseman then asked the parties to submit their briefs about the issue.

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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