The defense lawyer in the lawsuit filed by Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) and two Saipan residents against the Senate leadership over its conduct of the governor’s impeachment trial says his clients’ action did not violate the Open Government Act.
According to Colin Thompson, who represents the defendants in this case, the Senate’s adoption of the impeachment rules and the conduct of the impeachment hearing were not hidden from public view as argued by the plaintiffs, therefore their actions did not violate the Open Government Act.
In addition, Thompson stated that the impeachment rules are not subject to challenge under the Open Government Act.
“Nor, under the political question and legislative immunity doctrines, can the court order the Senate to rewrite its impeachment rules based on plaintiffs’ sense of how procedural due process should work, their beliefs about fairness, or the correct burden of proof to convict the governor,” Thompson said.
Lastly, Thompson argues that invalidating the Senate’s acquittal of the governor would expose the political process to chaos “without any meaningful relief for plaintiffs.”
Manglona, Carmen Patricia Deleon Guerrero, and Bruce Lee Jorgensen filed their Open Government Act lawsuit on May 11, 2022, and sought to invalidate the Senate impeachment rules and stop the Senate impeachment hearing that concluded on May 18, 2022.
The lawsuit named Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian), in his official capacity, and Sens. Karl King-Nabors (R-Tinian), Victor Hocog R-Rota), Francisco Cruz (R-Tinian), Justo Quitugua (R-Saipan), and Vinnie Sablan (R-Saipan), in their official capacities, as defendants.
The plaintiffs also simultaneously filed a petition for a temporary restraining order but the Superior Court neither granted nor denied the plaintiffs’ request.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres was impeached by the House of Representatives on Jan. 12, 2022.The Senate acquitted him of all charges on May 18, 2022.
Following the conclusion of the impeachment trial, Torres was tried in court on allegations of corruption, misconduct in office, and felonies of theft as well as contempt but he has since denied the allegations.