U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has issued an order temporarily closing physical access to the public the court, including the clerk’s office and the Office of Pretrial and Probation, starting yesterday through April 3.
In the order late Sunday afternoon, Manglona said that access to the court will be available in accordance with procedures. Court employees will be available by telephone and email from 8am until 5pm on Monday through Friday, other than legal holidays, while they are teleworking during this courthouse closure.
Statute of limitations, statutory deadlines, and other required deadlines will not be tolled or excluded during this period unless specifically ordered by the court, she said.
Manglona’s new order replaces her previous order last week in response to the developing COVID-19 outbreak, including recent confirmed cases in Guam.
The new order complies with the advisory of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities to take precautions to reduce the possibility of exposure to the coronavirus and to help stop the spread of the virus. The judge also noted that President Donald J. Trump has declared a national public health emergency.
“In issuing this order, the court has weighed the right of public access to the court against the need to protect the health and safety of the public,” Manglona said.
When the court reopens to the public on April 6, Manglona said entry restrictions will remain in effect until otherwise ordered.
She said court security will deny entry into the courthouse the following:
If you have traveled outside the CNMI in the last 14 days;
• Or if you have had close contact with someone who has traveled outside the CNMI within the last 14 days;
• Or if you’ve been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency;
• Or if you’ve been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Or if you have had a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, or flu symptoms within the last 72 hours.
Manglona said the entry protocols will be posted at the entrance of the courthouse.
Individuals who are prevented from entering the building will be given contact information of the court and all tenants of the courthouse so that they may attempt to conduct their business by phone or other remote means.
In limiting court proceedings, all civil and criminal jury selections and jury trials scheduled before April 26 are continued pending further court’s order.
All regularly scheduled grand jury proceedings are continued to April 26. However, the U.S. Attorney may schedule grand jury proceedings for emergency or essential matters after consulting with Manglona.
Manglona said to the extent possible, all civil, criminal and bankruptcy hearings will be conducted by telephone or video conference as determined by the presiding judge.
All sentencing and revocation hearings scheduled to be heard on or before April 3 and any related deadlines will be continued until further court’s order.
In addition, Manglona said, any previously ordered presentence report due dates during this period are vacated and will be rescheduled.
She said to the extent possible, criminal matters, such as initial appearances, arraignments and detention hearings will be conducted by video conference with the defendant’s consent.
Due to the court’s reduced ability to empanel jurors, Manglona said the time period of the continuances implemented by this order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act.
She said the court will issue findings in individual cases.
Manglona said the court is cognizant of the right of criminal defendants to a speedy trial under the 6th Amendment, and the application of that right in cases involving defendants who are detained pending trial.
Manglona said any motion by a criminal defendant seeking an extension to this order to exercise that right should be directed to the judge assigned to the matter.
She postponed all naturalization ceremonies, attorney admissions and other non-case related proceedings.
Manglona said the review and execution of warrants and complaints will be conducted remotely.
On filing and payments, she said all business with the clerk’s office should be conducted by telephone and email from 8pm to 5pm on Monday through Friday, except legal holidays.
All requests for court documents, including summons, subpoenas and federal records clearances, must be made by email to email@example.com. or by calling the deputy clerk on duty at 670-237-1200.
Cash/currency will not be accepted during this period of exigent circumstances. Only checks or money orders will be accepted. Criminal debts, miscellaneous fees, or any other payments must be made out to “Clerk, U.S. District Court.” Payments should be mailed to: United States District Court for the NMI P.O. Box 500687 Saipan, MP 96950.
Filings will continue to be processed in all cases via the CM/ECF electronic system, except for case openings and sealed matters.
Email filings will continue to be accepted.
Those who must make in-person filings or payments may call the deputy clerk on duty at 670-237-1200 and will be instructed to leave materials at the dropbox at the courthouse.
In-person filings and payments will only be available from 8am to 12pm on Monday through Friday, except for legal holidays.
All dropped-off materials must be placed in a sealed envelope and will be received after screening by security. On the outside of the envelope, state the name of the person making the payment or filing, the case number (if applicable), and a contact phone number in case of any questions. Mailed and dropped-off materials may not be processed until three business days after receipt by the court.
For any filings that require immediate attention, contact the deputy clerk on duty at 670-237-1200.
Documents for filing or receipting will have the effective date of receipt by the court, not when processed.