CAMACHO RECUSES IN QUICHOCHO SUIT OVER CASINO LAW
To avoid unnecessary briefing, the Office of the Attorney General has asked for guidance from the Superior Court in connection with lawyer Ramon K. Quichocho’s taxpayer’s lawsuit that questions the constitutionality of the 2-month-old casino law.
This developed as Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho on Wednesday recused himself from the lawsuit as his brother, Rep. George N. Camacho, may or may not be called as a witness in the case. Camacho forwarded the case to Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja for reassignment to another judge.
Assistant attorneys general David Lochabay, Reena Patel, and Teresita Sablan, as counsels for the CNMI government, Lottery Commission, and Gov. Eloy S. Inos respectively, filed a joint request to set a status conference as soon as possible.
Camacho ordered Quichocho to file his motion for temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction on or before Tuesday, May 20, 2014.
The CNMI government, Lottery Commission, and Inos are allowed to file their oppositions on or before May 26, 2014. The hearing on the motion for TRO/preliminary injunction would start on May 27, 2014.
Lochabay, Patel, and Sablan disclosed that on May 20, 2014, Quichocho filed his “suggestion” of nonwaivable conflict and illegal representation of Inos, in his personal capacity, by the OAG.
Quichocho also notified the court that he intends to file an amended complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction.
The government lawyers said the “suggestion” contains new matter not contained in Quichocho’s original complaint. They said Quichocho proclaims his “intent” to file a first amended complaint, but does not file one, instead interjecting new “facts” through the “suggestion.”
The government lawyers said that Quichocho is asking for a TRO and preliminary and permanent injunctive reliefs that are at least partly based on the “facts” alleged in the “suggestion,” not those in the complaint.
Because of this, they asked for a status conference in order to set a specific date for Quichocho to file his amended complaint and for the prompt resolution of other matters.
“Defendants aver that, considering the current procedural of the case (pre-service), some guidance is needed from the court to allay the possibility of duplicate and unnecessary briefing and other expenditure of scarce resources on a moving target,” the AAGs said.
In his order of self-recusal, Camacho said he informed the parties in the case at the May 16 status conference that Rep. Camacho is his brother and that his recusal may be required.
Rep. Camacho is not listed as a party in the lawsuit.
Judge Camacho said Quichocho told the court that Rep. Camacho may or may not be called as a witness on the issue of whether or not certain legislators and the governor failed to disclose any conflict of interest.
The judge said he recuses himself “on this sole and narrow issue.”
Quichocho filed the lawsuit for himself and on behalf of CNMI taxpayers. He is suing Inos and co-defendants for alleged violation of the NMI Constitution, illegal expenditure of public funds, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of trust.
Quichocho asked the court to issue a judgment declaring the casino law and any expenditure of public funds under that law as unconstitutional and unlawful.
He also sked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, preventing Inos and co-defendants from performing any rights or obligations under the casino law pending the resolution and final disposition of the lawsuit.
He also asked the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from performing any rights or obligations under the casino law.
Quichocho is demanding payment of unspecified damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.