The federal court has found moot Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero’s and Department of Finance Secretary Larissa Larson’s motion to dismiss the amended lawsuit filed by former U.S. Army Ranger Paul Michael Murphy over the alleged confiscation of his firearms and ammunition in 2007.
In denying the motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said the day after Deleon Guerrero and Larson filed the motion, Murphy had a non-party serve his summons and second amended complaint on the two officials.
“It appears that service has now been perfected,” Manglona said.
The judge ordered Deleon Guerrero and Larson to file a response by June 19, 2015.
Manglona, in an earlier order, explained that Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prohibits a party from a lawsuit from serving his own process.
Manglona said Murphy himself attempted to serve his summons and second amended complaint on Deleon Guerrero and Larson.
In their motion to dismiss, defendants pointed out Murphy’s error.
Deleon Guerrero and Larson, through the Office of the Attorney General, moved to dismiss the lawsuit for insufficient service of process.
Assistant attorney general James M. Zarones argued that Murphy attempted to personally serve process of the summons and the amended complaint upon the defendants in violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Zarones asserted that the court previously informed Murphy that he may not personally serve the defendants with process.
Last April, Manglona granted the CNMI government’s motion to dismiss Murphy’s $5-million lawsuit. Murphy was allowed, however, to file an amended complaint.
The judge said Murphy failed to sign his first amended complaint, although he signed the original complaint.
Manglona said Murphy also erred in naming the Commonwealth as the defendant in the caption, rather than DPS Commissioner Deleon Guerrero, as he did in the pleadings.
Manglona said neither the Commonwealth nor Deleon Guerrero was properly served, in violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The judge pointed out that Murphy is a pro se, non-lawyer litigant and that it makes sense to give him the benefit of the doubt when he is tripped up by the legal profession’s arcane rules.
In a pro se complaint (filed without a lawyer), Murphy, who is now a teacher, also asked the court to repeal the CNMI Weapons Control Act and all associated legislation, licensing, taxation, recording, administration, and processing.
Murphy said DPS withheld his firearms and ammunition until the issuance of a firearms, ammunition, and explosive identification card on Sept. 20, 2007.
He said his two firearms were sent to the Guam Police Department armory for holding, while the ammunition is still being held by CNMI DPS Firearms Section.
Murphy said DPS denied his repeated request to carry and possess his rifle and pistol.