PDO likens it to time after Soudelor, Yutu


For the Office of the Public Defender, the things they are doing to overcome the challenges in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic can be likened to what they did in the wake of the devastations of Typhoon Soudelor and Super Typhoon Yutu.

Chief Public Defender Douglas Hartig said yesterday that they are doing what they can under the current restrictions to fulfill their constitutionally mandated duties.

As part of social distancing rules required of individuals, there are times when clients need to wait outside PDO in a covered area until they are able to see them, said Hartig in response to questions about how they are managing their cases during this crisis.

Hartig said they are following restricted staffing in order to keep contact within the office minimal and to ensure social distancing. He said they also continue to follow recommended hand washing, sanitizing, and wearing masks when they can.

The chief public defender said they are working with the courts to keep cases proceeding through the use of electronic and telephonic communication as well as with the Department of Corrections so that they may maintain client contact while following social distancing recommendations.

Hartig said they have shortened business hours to allow for continued self-isolation so the PDO is open from 9am to 3pm but their lawyers are still working within the office or at home beyond those hours.

“We at PDO are up and running and serving the public in these difficult times,” Hartig said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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