Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expects several more certified questions on his relationship with the Office of the Attorney General in the future after the CNMI Supreme Court came out with a ruling that clarified two certified questions on the role of the office.
In an unplanned news briefing yesterday, Torres stated that he expects more certified questions about his dynamic with Attorney General Edward Manibusan, not because of bad blood but because of their “new relationship.”
“[This] is something we would continue to move forward [from]. Nothing changed and we are [in the mindset of] ‘where do we go from here,’” said Torres in a statement. “I am sure that, along the way, we would be having more certified questions, not because of bad relationships but to make sure that that relationship continues to move forward with a clear understanding as to where his office stands.”
Torres and the OAG filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in May 2017 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the Davis v CEC case.
The case involved the restriction on the Commonwealth Constitution limiting the right to vote on constitutional amendments involving land alienation to persons of Northern Marianas descent.
Manibusan declined to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in the Davis case, to which Torres responded by hiring a private counsel to file the petition, only to be denied on October 2017.
After that, Torres and Manibusan filed a joint petition for a certified question to ask the Supreme Court whether Manibusan has the authority to decline to appeal adverse judgments and whether outside counsel may prosecute an appeal for the governor or a Commonwealth government agency without a grant of authority from the AG.
The Supreme Court, in a ruling last Tuesday, said that the AG may decline to appeal an adverse judgment despite the wishes of a governor or a client government agency and that the governor or a client agency may not hire outside counsel to prosecute the appeal without a grant of authority from the AG.
Manibusan is the first CNMI-elected AG.