Senate counsel cites precedent that backs Impeachment Rules


Senate legal counsel Antonette Villagomez discussed yesterday at the Senate’s session a case precedent that supports the structure of the Impeachment Rules that Democrat representatives have strongly criticized as biased and unfair.

Villagomez cited the U.S. Supreme Court case called Nixon v. U.S. at the request of Sen. Karl R. King-Nabors (R-Tinian), who chairs the Committee on Judiciary, Government, Law and Federal Relations.

King-Nabors and Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian), who chairs the Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations, came up with the Rules of Impeachment.

Villagomez said Rule 3 of the Impeachment Rules basically gives the Senate president the option of either referring the Articles of Impeachment to the full Senate for a hearing or refer it to a special committee for a preliminary hearing.

Villagomez said the question has been raised why create a special committee to hear any of the Articles of Impeachment. She cited the U.S. Supreme Court case law Nixon v. U.S., in which a circuit judge was impeached in the U.S. Senate committee as opposed to the full Senate.

Villagomez said what happened was that the impeachment case was sent to a Senate committee and the committee heard the case, had the hearing, and heard the evidence. She said when the committee was done, they came up with a report and referred the matter to the full Senate, where the full Senate voted on the impeachment of the judge.

In Torres’ case, Villagomez said the joint committees decided that it is consistent with the U.S. case law, and U.S. Senate’s actions in Nixon v U.S.

“Our Senate…can have the same options,” she said.

Villagomez said the option is either refer the impeachment articles to the full Senate for hearing or refer it to the committee for a hearing. She said after the hearing, the committee report will be prepared and referred to the full Senate for action.

“And if the Senate decides to have a committee hearing, the full Senate will still have to vote on every single article if there is a pre-determination that one or two or three of the articles did not meet the standard on the Rules,” Villagomez said.

She said that impeachment article still has to be brought to the full Senate.

“So all the articles will be referred to the full Senate for action. And the only difference is if it goes to the committee, the hearing will be heard at the committee level and there will not be a hearing at the Senate level. That’s Rule 3,” she said.

Villagomez said the joint Senate committees used the Nixon case to basically justify that rule in the proposed Impeachment Rules.
The full Senate adopted the Impeachment Rules yesterday.

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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