No judge named yet to handle suit vs Senate

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The impeachment trial of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is set to begin today at the CNMI Senate but the CNMI Judiciary has yet to assign a judge to rule on Sen. Sen. Paul A. Manglona’s (Ind-Rota) request for a temporary restraining order to temporarily suspend the Senate proceedings.

As of 5:30pm press time yesterday, Saipan Tribune learned that the CNMI Superior Court had yet to assign a judge to hear the complaint and rule on the TRO request taken out by Manglona and two other CNMI residents. They want the court to temporarily put the impeachment trial on hold until alleged violations made by the Senate in regard to the impeachment proceedings are addressed.

The complaint named Senate President Jude Hofschneider, and Sens. Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian), Victor Hocog (R-Rota), Francisco Cruz (R-Rota), Vinnie Sablan (R-Saipan), and Justo Quitugua (R-Saipan) as defendants.

In related news, Manglona and CNMI residents Carmen Patricia Deleon Guerrero and Bruce Lee Jorgensen filed a motion yesterday seeking a temporary restraining order against the Senate to suspend the impeachment proceedings while their complaint remains pending with the Superior Court.

“[We] were compelled to initiate this civil action, in an effort to protect and promote the welfare, rights, and fiduciary interests of all members of the CNMI general public. Pro se plaintiffs are cognizant that defendants intend to commence [impeachment proceedings] on May 13, which relate directly and are inextricably intertwined with the claims alleged in the complaint,” the motion for TRO stated. Appearing before the court without a lawyer is considered pro se.

In addition, the three plaintiffs claim that the impeachment proceedings would cause irreparable harm to the CNMI community if it were to begin.

“Pro se plaintiffs seek to protect themselves, and the CNMI community at large from the certainty that if the May 13th session transpires—and the impeachment proceedings or related activities commence and/or conclude pursuant and/or through application or impact of the impeachment rules the Senate has enacted in violation, circumvention, and subversion of CNMI law, including the Open Government Act requisites—then detrimental impact and irreparable harm to all in the CNMI community shall be compounded with exacerbated and otherwise needless harmful consequences,” the motion stated.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Manglona and his co-plaintiffs have filed five causes of actions to sue Republican members of the Senate on the grounds of violations of the Open Government Act, violations of the CNMI Constitution, breach of constitutional duty, and alleged deprivation of due process and civil rights.

As relief, the plaintiffs want the court to grant a restraining order prohibiting the defendants from proceeding with the Senate’s impeachment trial under the allegedly tainted impeachment rules, among others.

Just hours after the plaintiffs filed their complaint, two of the CNMI’s five Superior Court judges recused themselves from hearing the case.

The plaintiffs believe the three remaining judges will follow suit.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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