U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has ordered lawyer Stephen C. Woodruff to explain why he should not be suspended from the practice of law in federal court and otherwise discipline him for failure to comply with the court’s orders.
In an order to show cause on Thursday, Manglona directed Woodruff to appear in court on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 10:30am.
On Friday, Woodruff filed a motion asking the federal court to immediately reseal the case.
Woodruff said this case began as a sealed matter but was unsealed when Manglona entered an order imposing reciprocal discipline.
Woodruff said Manglona subsequently withdrew the suspension order but failed to reseal the case.
“As a consequence, the local news media have publicly reported most, if not all, filings in this case,” he said.
Woodruff said publicity regarding this case during these critical weeks would potentially negatively affect his electoral prospects without due process of law and thus unfairly prejudice him in the political arena “in which the court has a profound duty to remain circumspect, at the very least.”
Woodruff is running for a Saipan Senate seat in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election.
In the show cause order, Manglona said a review of the docket shows that for the months of April, May, June, July, August, and September 2014, Woodruff has not notified the court of the progress of his disciplinary matter in CNMI courts.
Furthermore, the judge said it has come to her attention that on Aug. 9, 2013, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law in the CNMI courts for failure to pay his 2013 annual Bar membership fees.
Manglona said continued membership in federal court’s bar is limited to attorneys “who are active members in good standing of the Commonwealth Supreme Court Bar…”
It appears, Manglona said, that Woodruff is no longer an active member in good standing of that Bar.
On Aug. 8, 2013, Manglona required Woodruff within the last five days of each month to notify the court, in writing, of the progress of his disciplinary matter in Commonwealth courts.
In that Aug. 8, order, the judge said any failure to comply with the order may subject Woodruff to fines imposed for civil contempt.
On Oct. 8, 2013, Manglona issued a show cause order why Woodruff should not be held in civil contempt for failure to submit progress reports for August and September 2013.
After a show-cause hearing on Oct. 11, 2013, Manglona excused the respondent’s noncompliance but put him on notice “that any further disobedience or resistance to the court’s Aug. 3 order may subject him to prosecution for criminal contempt as well as disciplinary action under the court’s local rules.