The CNMI Supreme Court has denied former Department of Public Safety deputy commissioner Ambrosio T. Ogumoro’s petition that seeks an order to prevent Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman from presiding over his criminal case for his alleged role in shielding then-attorney general Edward Buckingham from being served with penal summons in 2012.
Citing a precedent case, the justices said a writ of mandamus or prohibition is appropriate in extraordinary circumstances.
Under the five factors to issue a writ of mandamus or prohibition, the justices said they find that Ogumoro does not demonstrate that an extraordinary remedy is warranted.
In resolving Ogumoro’s petition, the justices weighed the five factors: whether Ogumoro has no other adequate means, such as a direct appeal; he will sustain damage or prejudice that cannot be rectified on appeal; Judge Wiseman’s decision constitutes clear error; Wiseman’s decision is “an oft-repeated error,” or evinces a “persistent disregard of applicable rules”; and Wiseman’s decision triggers novel and important issues, or issues of first impression.
Associate Justice John A. Manglona and Justice Pro Tems Robert J. Torres and Herbert D. Soll, who heard the petition, said they will issue a separate opinion for publication consistent with this order.
The justices have yet to rule on Ogumoro’s other petition that seeks to prohibit the Superior Court from appointing former Office of the Public Auditor legal counsel George L. Hasselback as special prosecutor in the case.
Ogumoro’s counsel Edward Arriola Sr. argued, among other things, that Wiseman erred in not recusing himself after making a probable cause determination in support of the arrest for Ogumoro and for engaging in ex parte communication with special prosecutor Hasselback.
Hasselback argued, among other things, that Wiseman only determined probable cause and has not prejudged anyone.
Ogumoro is facing 15 counts of criminal charges.
In this case, only the charges against Ogumoro and co-defendants former Commonwealth Ports Authority police chief Jordan Kosam and former CPA police captain John T. Rebuenog are pending in court.
Former governor Benigno R. Fitial pleaded guilty, while Buckingham was convicted during a bench trial. As The case against Fitial’s former personal driver and bodyguard Jermaine Joseph W. Nekaifes was dismissed.