Torres wants AG disqualified


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, through his lawyer, has cited an alleged conflict of interest in asking the Superior Court to disqualify the CNMI Office of the Attorney General in the criminal case it filed against Torres.

According to the motion filed by Viola Alepuyo and Matthew Holly on behalf of the governor, the OAG as a whole was created by the CNMI Constitution to serve as the governor’s chief legal officer, which means Torres is currently a client of the OAG, which constitutes a conflict of interest. Due to this conflict of interest, Torres’ lawyers argue, the OAG should be disqualified from prosecuting this case.

“It cannot be disputed that at all times relevant to this prosecution and the underlying factual basis, Gov. Torres was and still is a client of the OAG and has materially adverse interests in connection with this criminal prosecution, then the OAG and the Commonwealth. This circumstance presents an incurable concurrent conflict of interest for the OAG and triggers…this court’s inherent authority to disqualify the OAG if it does not withdraw. For the foregoing reasons, Gov. Torres respectfully asks that the court grant its motion to disqualify the Office of the Attorney General if it does not withdraw from prosecuting this case,” the motion stated.


Alpeuyo explained that the CNMI Constitution created the OAG headed by the attorney general, and since the adoption of the constitution, the attorney general has been designated the chief legal officer to the governor.

“The chief legal officer of the Commonwealth government shall be responsible for providing legal advice to the governor and executive departments (including public corporations and autonomous agencies), representing the Commonwealth in all legal matters, and prosecuting violations of Commonwealth law. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, the OAG has a duty and obligation to provide legal advice to the governor and Executive [Branch] departments; to represent the Commonwealth in all legal matters; and to prosecute violations of Commonwealth law,” Alepuyo said.

In addition, Alepuyo stated that the OAG also has the duty to represent the Commonwealth in all legal matters and prosecute violations of Commonwealth law. However, in this case, these two duties intersect, which should warrant disqualification.

“The constitution requires the OAG to concurrently represent both the governor and the Commonwealth. Here, not only has the OAG failed in its constitutional duty to defend the Executive Branch, the Travel Committee policy, and in particular Gov. Torres, but at the same time, it is criminally prosecuting Gov. Torres for an alleged violation in which the OAG provided legal advice. The attorney general should have faithfully represented the governor in this matter and if that was impossible, he should have stepped aside.” she stated.

Alepuyo noted that the OAG should have referred this matter to the Office of the Public Auditor for purposes of investigating and, if necessary, prosecuting Torres, or appointing a special prosecutor to do the same.

“If the OAG withdraws or is disqualified, then this matter can either be referred to OPA,” she stated.

The OAG filed criminal charges against Torres last month, alleging 12 counts of misconduct in public office and theft.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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