Torres, HANMI invited to submit brief on Article 12, land lease renewal issues


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has invited Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, some government agencies, the Hotel Association of the NMI, and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce to submit briefs on issues involving Article 12 of the NMI Constitution and the renewal of land leases.


Camacho issued Wednesday the invitation to submit an amicus curiae brief in connection with an estate executor’s request for court’s approval of a new land lease agreement under the estate with Triple J Saipan Inc.

Amicus curiae (friend of the court) refers to a brief filed in court by an entity who is not a party to a case. It is a non-party individual or entity who assists the court by offering information, expertise, or insight that is relevant to the issues in a case.

This comes as Camacho’s courtroom entertains a case related to the estate of Probio Cabrera, which owns parcels of land in western Garapan where Tony Roma’s and Capricciosa’s restaurants are located.

Camacho asked the invited parties to submit a brief on the question: Does Article 12 prohibit a corporation, or its subsidiaries that took over the lease, from entering into a new lease if entering into the new lease would give the lessor a long-term interest in the real property for more than the original 55 years?

Others who’ve also been invited to submit brief are the Office of Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, the Legislature, the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Public Lands, Marianas Public Land Trust, and the Strategic Economic Development Council.

The briefs are due on or before Sept. 10, 2019.

The hearing on Cabrera estate’s executor motion to approve the lease, which was originally set last Thursday, was rescheduled to Sept. 12, 2019, at 10am before Camacho.

Camacho said the issues involving Article 12 and the renewal of land leases, or new land leased by current corporations in possession of existing land leases, has far-reaching ramifications that affect people of Northern Marianas descent, businesses, investors, and the government. Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution limits landownership in the CNMI only to those of Northern Marianas descent.

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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