The Rota Centron Hustisia, or Rota Judicial Center, is located in Sinapalo and houses the Superior Court, Office of the Adult Probation, and Attorney General and Public Defender's Offices, as well as the Department of Public Safety.
2017 ANNUAL REPORT
The Judiciary | Northern Mariana Islands
judiciary budget falls below $8.2 million request
judge bogdan takes oath
usda loan application progresses
Magdiel Job A. Corpuz
Martha B. Mendiola
On August 16, 2017, Wesley M. Bogdan was sworn in as an Associate Judge by CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres.
The Judiciary requested a budget of $8.2 million to hire additional staff, perform building improvements, and expand services to a growing client base.
An excavation on the Guma' Hustisia was completed for the USDA loan application to upgrade court facilities.
Message from the Chief Justice
Meet the Justices
Clerk of the Supreme Court
Meet the Judges
Clerk of the Superior Court
Commonwealth Recorder's Office
Family Court Division
Office of Adult Probation
Drug Court Division
Judiciary Administrative Office
Director of Courts
Accounting Service Unit
Marshal Service Division
Human Resource Office
Information Systems Unit
Northern Marianas Judiciary
Law Revision Commission
Around the Judiciary
Law and Freshman Legislators Seminar
Justice John A. Manglona
Director of Courts Sonia A. Camacho
Olga Y. Bykov
On May 22, 2017, CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro was sworn in as the fourth non-resident Associate Justice of the Palau Supreme Court.
castro joins palau court
The Commonwealth Judiciary hosted the Pacific Judicial Council Biennial Conference from September 26-29,2017 at the Fiesta Resort & Spa. In attendance were 130 judges, justices, law clerks, and guests from the CNMI, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, American Samoa, and the Philippines.
pjc biennial conference
On December 1 - 2, 2017, over 80 students from nine high schools around Saipan, Tinian, and Rota participated in intensive training on court rules and legal practices. Hosted by the Judiciary, the preparation is for the 2018 CNMI High School Mock Trial Competition and National High School Mock Trial Championship.
4TH ANNUAL MOCK TRIAL ACADEMY
MESSAGE FROM THE
Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro presents at the 7th Biannual Law and the Freshman Legislator Seminar.
2017 Annual Report |
2017 marked many milestones for the CNMI Judiciary, strengthening our presence and maintaining an active role in our community and in the Western Pacific region.
On March 23, I accepted Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr.’s appointment to serve as a non-resident Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the Palau Supreme Court, and was sworn in on May 22, 2017. This inclusion in the Palau Supreme Court was not the only addition to a judicial branch. In November, Wesley M. Bogdan was sworn into the CNMI Judiciary as a new Associate Judge, filling the vacancy created upon David A. Wiseman’s retirement. The CNMI Judiciary extends a warm welcome to Judge Bogdan as he begins his new career.
The CNMI Judiciary hosted the Pacific Judicial Council Biennial Conference from September 26 to 29, 2017. This gave the Commonwealth the opportunity to demonstrate a desire to cultivate progressive legal scholarship. The Conference was well-attended by members of the legal community, and covered an array of topics such as immigration, evidence, a review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 caseload, and other subjects. Speakers included Senior Judge John Coughenour of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington; Supreme Court of Guam Associate, Justice Robert J. Torres; professors Carlton F.W. Larson and Rose Cuison-Villazor, both of the University of California at Davis School of Law; University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Law adjunct professor, Joseph Regalia; and Bruce A. Bradley, a former ethics prosecutor for the Guam Judiciary.
A critical responsibility of the Judiciary is fostering an awareness and appreciation for the judicial branch among our community’s youth. For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, we held CNMI Supreme Court oral arguments outside of the courtroom and inside the classroom. These oral arguments were performed during the school year and hosted by both Northern Marianas College and Kagman High School. In addition to this, we continued our annual events such as Law Week, the Attorney General’s Cup, and Mock Trial. There is no doubt in my mind that the Judiciary will continue this trend of exposure and outreach for the youth of our islands.
We must never lose sight of the impact the Judiciary can make in our community. 2017 saw a number of accomplishments and firsts for the CNMI Judiciary, and this report charts the highlights and growth that we anticipate will continue for the Commonwealth in years to come.
Alexandro C. Castro
Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos
Members of the CNMI Judicial Council
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Northern Mariana Islands. It was established in 1989 by Public Law 6-25 to review appealed decisions of the NMI Superior Court. Prior to the establishment of the Supreme Court, appellate jurisdiction was vested in the District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Immediately after its establishment, CNMI Supreme Court decisions were appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After May 2004, all appeals from the Supreme Court are filed with the United States Supreme Court. The NMI Supreme Court is composed of a chief justice and two associate justices, who are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Each justice is appointed for an eight-year term, after which he or she is subject to a retention election.
The current justices are Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos.
In January 2017, the justices attended the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Justice Katherine A. Maraman of the Guam Surpeme Court.
Guam Supreme Court Chief Justice Katherine A. Maraman visits the CNMI Supreme Court on November 7, 2017.
The chart is an overview of case filings over a three-year period ending in 2017. There was a minimal increase of 12% from 2015 to 2017 in total case filings. The largest growth is seen in criminal cases. See Appendix for additional data.
Nora V. Borja Deputy Clerk of Court & Bar Administrator
Clerk of Court's Office
Pro Hac Vice
Certified Legal Intern
Deanna M. Ogo Supreme Court Clerk of Court
In 2017, the Supreme Court for the first time in its history brought the courtroom into the classroom as part of the Judges in the Classroom program. Judges in the Classroom is an interactive outreach program designed to educate youth on the judicial system and its functions. Appellate sessions were held at Northern Marianas College and Kagman High School.
Northern Marianas College On February 8, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Rose Ann Dela Cruz v. Elden Dela Cruz, 2016-SCC-0011-FAM, at Northern Marianas College. The case involved an appeal of a judgment on division of marital assets that occurred as part of a divorce proceeding. Each party, through their attorneys, had the opportunity to make their arguments in front of the Supreme Court. The panel consisted of Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos. A question-and-answer session was held after the hearing, where students asked questions about the judicial system.
"The students were fully prepared with insightful questions about the inner workings of the appellate court. We appreciate their asking us to come back again for another appellate session," said Justice John A. Manglona.
The justices, lawyers, and clerks were available to take questions.
The hearing was a result of an effort by the Judiciary to reach out to the community.
Prior to the court session, NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez and Dean of Office of Institutional Advancement Frankie Eliptico each gave brief remarks welcoming the Judiciary.
From left: Attorney for the Appellant Janet King, Justice John A. Manglona, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Justice Perry B. Inos, NMC Dean of Academic Programs and Services Bobblie Merfalen, and Attorney for the Appellee Stephen Nutting.
An eager NMC student asks the panel a question regarding the Supreme Court appeals process.
APPELLATE SESSIONS AT NMC
& KAGMAN HIGH SCHOOL
The justices held a question-and-answer session with NMC students immediately after the oral argument.
Over 100 students attended the Supreme Court's oral arguments at Kagman High School as part of the Judges in the Classroom community outreach program.
Kagman High School On Monday, February 13, 2017, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Commonwealth v. Victor B. Hocog, 2016-SCC-0010-CRM, at Kagman High School. This case dealt with a sentencing judgment. The case was heard before Associate Justices John A. Manglona, Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, and Justice Pro Tem Robert J. Torres.
Commonwealth v. Arurang
2017 MP 1
Castro, Manglona, Inos
Commonwealth v. Guiao
2017 MP 2
Castro, Manglona, Camacho
Su Yue Min v. Feng Hua Enter., Inc.
2017 MP 3
Caiyun Mu v. Hyoun Min Oh
2017 MP 4
Commonwealth v. Lizama
2017 MP 5
Blanco-Maratita v. Borja
2017 MP 6
Manglona, Maraman, Torres
Commonwealth v. Monkeya
2017 MP 7
Ogumoro v. Ko Han Yoon
2017 MP 8
Commonwealth v. Rupurei
2017 MP 9
Castro, Inos, Bellas
Commonwealth v. Mendiola
2017 MP 10
Dela Cruz v. Dela Cruz
2017 MP 11
Santos v. Commonwealth
2017 MP 12
Isla Dev. Prop., Inc. v. Steven K. Jang
2017 MP 13
Marianas Ins. Co. v. Ismail Hossain
2017 MP 14
Commonwealth v. Hocog
2017 MP 15
Manglona, Inos, Torres
Nevada D.H.H.S. Div. of Welfare v. Lizama
2017 MP 16
Commonwealth v. Ogumoro
2017 MP 17
Manglona, Torres, Iriarte
Jung v. Mode Tour Saipan Corp.
2017 MP 18
Castro, Manglona, Bellas
Commonwealth v. Taitano
2017 MP 19
Manglona, Barcinas, Bellas
Commonwealth v. Castro
2017 MP 20
Inos, Camacho, Bellas
In 2017, seven people took the CNMI Bar Examination, two in February and five in July. Six out of the seven applicants passed and were sworn in to practice in the Commonwealth.
The bar exam, which is administered in the Supreme Court room, determines whether or not a candidate is competent to practice law in the Commonwealth. It is administered twice a year. usually in February and July by the Bar Administrator Nora V. Borja.
Bar Administrator Nora V. Borja proctored over the 2017 Bar Examination, which took place on July 26th and 27th in the Supreme Court courtroom. Five applicants took the exam.
The Kotten Tinian Courtroom
Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio, Associate Judge David A. Wiseman, Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, and Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho
The Office of the Clerk of Court (“COC”) is one of the largest divisions supporting the operation of the Superior Court. All civil, criminal, family, small claims, and traffic cases, as well as agency appeals, are initiated and processed by the COC. In addition, the COC is the custodian of all records filed with the Superior Court and is responsible for issuing criminal and traffic clearances. Over the course of 2017, the COC has been diligently working on various initiatives to enhance Superior Court operations.
The COC's general responsibility is to set the case calendar for each of the Superior Court judges pursuant to the Presiding Judge’s assignment orders. It implemented a new General Calendar in January 2017, which had no significant changes fro the previous year's calendar. This calendar took into account the pending cases that were previously heard by retired Judge David Wiseman. All of these cases were equally divided amongst the four judges. Upon the confirmation of Associate Judge Wesley Bodgan in September 2017, a new general calendar was implemented.
The Superior Court welcomes the fifth judge to fill the vacancy left by Retired Judge Wiseman. Associate Judge Wesley M. Bogdan was nominated by Governor Torres and confirmed by the Senate of the Twentieth Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature. The new calendar redistributed the dockets to the five trial court judges with the following general case assignments:
Family and Drug Court assigned to Associate Judge Kim-Tenorio; Small Claims and Traffic Cases to Associate Judge Bogdan; Administrative Appeals to Associate Judge Govendo; Two settings per month for Rota and Tinian shared by Presiding Judge Naraja and Judge Camacho; and Ten (10) bail hearings per week.
Jury Commission No. 2017-001 was issued by Presiding Judge Naraja early this year.This order allows the COC to retire the jury panel commissioned in February 2015 and draw new panels to be used for future jury trials. Special sessions were called to draw a specific number of panels for the islands of Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. A total of 26 jury panels were commission for Saipan, 5 jury panels each were commissioned for Rota and Tinian.
A new judiciary fee schedule was approved, increasing all court filing fees.This fee increase prompted the COC to work with File and Serve Express to update its fee schedule to avoid delays in any filing process by the attorneys. In addition, public notices were published to inform the general public about the increases.
The COC has submitted its proposed case management process and standard operating procedures (“SOP”) governing the operation of the COC to the Office of the Presiding Judge. In particular, the COC developed a case flow and workflow management process for all cases filed with the Superior Court as well as SOP governing the disposition of all traffic citations and bench warrants. This project is a joint collaboration between the COC, Family Court Division, and Finance Division.
OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF COURT
January - March
April - June
July - September
October - December
Table 2.1. Quarterly Case Filings
Additional statistics from the Office of the Clerk of Court are available in the Appendix.
Table 2.2. Cases Filed by Island
OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF COURT
Patrick V. Diaz, Clerk of Court
Novelyn Wania-Tenorio, Deputy Clerk III
Rosie Jane Ada, Deputy Clerk II
Daisy Mendiola, Deputy Clerk II
Kristy Diaz, Deputy Clerk II
Sabrina Dela Cruz, Deputy Clerk I
Eva Calvo, Deputy Clerk I
Adeline Tereyama, Deputy Clerk I
Berliann Higgins, Deputy Clerk I
Okalani Shiprit, Deputy Clerk I
Joann Pangelinan, Deputy Clerk I
Marissa Ada, Deputy Clerk I
Clare Moses, Deputy Clerk I
Byron Piteg, Deputy Clerk I
Michelle Atalig Administrative Specialist Centron Hustisia Rota
Luise S. Deleon Guerrero Commonwealth Recorder
Scanning of maps by a local printing company.
COMMONWEALTH RECORDER'S OFFICE
The Commonwealth Recorder's Office (CRO) was established within the Commonwealth Superior Court through the passage of Public Law 3-64 in 1983. The Office is mandated to record and maintain documents pertaining to official Commonwealth land registration and other real estate, commercial, and personal property. It is also responsible for maintaining original records of Commonwealth vital statistics such as certificates of birth, death, and marriage. The Commonwealth Recorder’s Office, as the central repository for all such records, provides the public access to the information by indexing the same and providing duplication services pursuant to a fee schedule. The Commonwealth Recorder’s office is headed by the Commonwealth Recorder, who serves under the supervision of the Presiding Judge. The staff assists numerous individuals, government agencies, and commercial establishments in the recording, indexing, duplication, and certification of records. Their daily role centers on customer service requests from Tinian, Rota, Saipan, Guam, Hawaii, and other jurisdictions. In addition to recording land documents and vital statistics, daily document handling includes the following:
Filing of Uniform Commercial Code Documents
Recording of Land Records, Miscellaneous Affidavits, and all other Documents
Generating Computer Indexes
Scanning of Land Registration, Uniform Commercial Code Documents
Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates
Table 2. Death Certificates
Table 1. Birth Certificates
Table 6: Land Documents and Filings
Additional statistics from the Commonwealth Recorder's Office are available in the Appendix.
Table 7A. Uniform Commercial Code Pages
Joseph Kevin P. Villagomez, Manager
Nikita S. Cabrera, Family Court Services Specialist
Monica V. Manibusan, Family Court Project Assistant
FAMILY COURT DIVISION
Pursuant to Public Law 9-51, a Family Court Division (“FCD”) was established within the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Family Court Division assists the Superior Court Clerk of Court in processing pleadings and distributing orders for pro se litigants who appear before the family court judge. In addition to its administrative duties, the Family Court offers client services and provides information and guidance on pro se family cases. The Family Court has continued to help troubled families seeking assistance.
Since 2003, Judge Govendo has been the primary Family Court judge in the Northern Marianas Islands. In 2016, Judge Kim-Tenorio was assigned Family Court cases. The Family Court Division has primary jurisdiction over all family legal matters, including the following:
Change of Name
Property Distribution Upon Divorce or Annulment
Guardianship and Guardianship Ad litem
Temporary Restraining Order
Table 1. Pro Se Services
Table 2. Other Services
Delia S. Calvo
Client Service Coordinator, Rota Centron Hustisia
The Office of Adult Probation and Supervision (OAP) is established by 1 CMC § 3231. By law, the OAP is responsible for fulfilling duties such as:
creating and maintaining records for each person placed on probation
monitoring and supervising criminal offenders for public safety
serving arrest warrants
investigating and reporting to the court
reporting on cases
executing bench warrants
offering offender services
recovering restitution for victims.
The office’s overall goal is to reduce and deter crime and recidivism.In recent years, the Office of Adult Probation has continued to handle a high number of criminal and traffic cases requiring probation services. As a substantial portion of the new criminal cases are STOP VAWA cases, the OAP continues to address incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault and victim protection. The OAP has also executed numerous reports, appearances, and bench warrants.
The Office of Adult Probation Staff attending the Judiciary's Professional Development Training.
Table 1. 2017 Case Management
Table 2. Restitution Tracking
Table 3. Legal Obligation Performance
Pretrial Parole and Probation Proclamation Signing on July 13, 2017 at the Governor's Office.
Farewell lunch for OAP Staff Oscar Torres on May 11, 2017.
Table 5. Travel Authorizations
Table 4. Purchase Requisitions
Probation Staff Sophia Geisinger participates in a DOC training.
OAP Personnel trained with DOC Staff at the Assembly Hall, LRC.
Department of Corrections Training on February 22, 2017
The Drug Court Division supported the 2017 CNMI Women's Month
The Drug Court Act of 2015 was enacted on October 28, 2015. Drug Court Division (DCD) was established in 2016 following the hiring of its staff. The Drug Court Program (“Drug Court” or “Program”) is a collaborative non-adversarial system to effectuate the rehabilitation and recovery of drug offenders through intense judicial interaction, court monitoring, and holistic substance use disorder treatment.
In 2016 and through 2017, under the leadership of the Presiding Judge and the assigned Drug Court Judge, the Drug Court Manager and staff diligently worked on planning and fully implementing the Drug Court Program. Countless hours were spent on researching and developing training, funding, and administrative strategies to ensure successful implementation of the first local drug court. Funding strategies included introduction and passage of legislative mandates, integration with existing treatment and judicial services, and development of federal grant proposals. Training and administrative strategies consisted of drafting program policies and procedures and promoting interdisciplinary training across multiple agencies involved in the Program. On May 26, 2017, the Supreme Court adopted the Interim CNMI Drug Court Program Policies and Procedures, inclusive of Drug Court’s mission, vision, and goals.
Judge Kim-Tenorio Presenting to Faith-Based Leaders.
Presiding Judge Naraja and Judiciary Staff at Matrix Training hosted by Drug Court.
Although Drug Court faced numerous internal and external challenges in 2017, with a reduced workforce and an increased caseload, DCD continued to meet major deadlines and achieve goals while providing services to over 30 high risk, high need participants.
Only 5.7% of 2,874 drug screens were positive
100% retention rate
807 case management meetings completed
Held 50 Drug Court hearings
3106 recovery hours completed
Drug Court fully implemented the Drug Court Case Management (DCCM) Software on December 14, 2017. The DCD now utilizes the DCCM International Site to case manage and access real time information through a secured, web-based application.
1st Drug Court Meeting
Before the end of 2017, Drug Court received 60 referrals. There are currently 38 active cases, 12 pending cases, and 6 cases deemed unsuitable for the program. Upon completing entrance protocols, 38 active participants have been engaged in a comprehensive, holistic approach, which combines intensive judicial interaction, aggressive community supervision, frequent drug testing, case management, and substance and alcohol treatment services. DCD tracks services provided in accordance with policies and procedures. To date, the following required services rendered included legal eligibility and biopsychosocial/Clinical Assessment Referral. In addition to the services above, Drug Court staff provide services to ensure a continuum of care, such as: coordinated health exams and education, required frequent randomized drug testing, community supervision, informal sanctions, incentives, personal donations, and links to community resources and faith-based support. Family orientations were also conducted for accepted cases. The Drug Manager also finalized and submitted an agreement with Commonwealth Advocate for Recovery Efforts (C.A.R.E) to establish a mentoring program for participants.
2017 National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Conference
DCD submitted an application for “Operational Tune Up Training” to the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI). The CNMI was approved and drug court operational review/training is being scheduled for March 12-15, 2018. Training will focus on the needs of the Judiciary and key community stakeholders who can make an impact on the operations of Drug Court. NDCI will also invite the Guam Judiciary and U.S. District Court’s Drug Offender Reentry Program to participate in training. In 2018, DCD will continue to improve services of the CNMI’s first local drug court. Major initiatives include forming an Advisory Committee, applying for federal grants, enhancing treatment services, and expanding other problem-solving courts.
Walk for Recovery Sponsors- Pacific Century Fellows
Director of Courts Sonia A, Camacho, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Budget & Finance Director John T. Villagomez, Accountant I Catherine C. Licop-Mendoza, Administrative Assistant Steve S. Cabrera, Accountant I Jason D. Kelley, and Accountant II Evelyn P. Calvo. The Commonwealth Judiciary Administrative Office (“CJAO”) oversees the administrative functions and operations of the courts on Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. Accordingly, this office must be staffed to assist the Chief Justice and Presiding Judge in their administrative responsibilities. The CJAO is tasked with implementing the Judicial Council’s policies and strategic plans.
JUDICIARY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
Director of Courts Sonia A. Camacho speaks at the Attorney General Cup on May 5, 2017. Director Camacho was sworn in January 12, 2018. Camacho’s new role will involve the supervision of personnel with the CNMI Judiciary Administrative Office. She will be overseeing the Judiciary’s policy development and planning, court performance monitoring, and assisting with the implementation of the Judiciary’s strategic plan, Judicial Council initiatives, and justice programs. Camacho has been with the CNMI Judiciary for over 20 years, initially appointed in 1995 by then-Presiding Judge Alexandro C. Castro to serve as a judicial assistant to then-associate judge Edward Manibusan. She has since served through four chief justices and three presiding judges in various capacities. Prior to her recent appointment, Camacho was the special assistant to the presiding judge/deputy director of courts and assisted the chief justice as acting director of courts. She has served in various management teams, supervised chamber assignments, facilitated court programs and projects, overseen transitional and budgetary initiatives, and assisted with the development of case management strategies.
DIRECTOR OF COURTS
ACCOUNTING SERVICE UNIT
Swearing-in ceremony for Accountant I Catherine Licop-Mendoza by Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja on April 11, 2017.
The ASU completed the following tasks as part of its normal functions: providing cashiering services for all Judiciary fees and fines, DPS-BMV fees and fines, and other governmental agency's fees, operating a collection and disbursement system for fiduciary accounts (child support, bail, restitution, probate funds, civil jury funds, and other third party funds per court orders), providing data entry processing for traffic and criminal assessments, processing certification of funds for Judiciary purchases, processing and issuing payments to vendors, maintaining files and bookkeeping records for all transactions, tracking Judiciary fund status for three accounts, and issuing activity reports to the Secretary of Finance, the Director of Courts, and Associate Justice John A. Manglona.
Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request
Budget planning led by the Accounting Service Unit on April 13, 2017.
The FY' 2018 Budget Request from the CNMI Judicial Branch can be viewed if you click here. FY 2018 CNMI Judicial Branch Budget Request amounts to $8,293,053:
Supreme Court (1691) $949,320
Superior Court (1690) $2,882,374
Drug Court (1695) $452,782
Judiciary Administrative Office (1694) $3,598,206
Law Revision Commission (1692) $410,371
The ASU also assisted (1) the Clerk of the Superior Court in reconciling orders for the status of payments to court-appointed counsel, experts, and members of the jury and (2) the Chief Probation Officer in reconciling restitution amounts and probationer payee information. The Unit is comprised of a staff of four: Budget and Finance Director John T. Villagomez, Accountant II Evelyn P. Calvo, Accountant I Jason Kelley and Accoutant I Catherine C. Licop-Mendoza.
Marshal Service Division
The MSD will continue to strengthen security in and around the courthouse by means of security improvement projects such as adding cameras at blind spots and installing glass windows in holding cells. Security and law enforcement is the top priority in the Marshal Service Division. The Marshals Service Division (MSD) is established pursuant to 1 CMC § 3901. By law, the MSD must undergo firearms training and other periodic certification to the same extent as the Department of Public Safety.
The marshals are deemed law enforcement officers with authority equivalent to that of police officers. They are tasked with ensuring public safety in the three courthouses. Some of their duties include:
performing general court security;
providing security services to judiciary personnel, participants in court proceedings, and the general public visiting the judicial facilities;
providing personal security for justices and judges outside of judiciary grounds and while on official business;
serving various forms of process; and assisting in transporting prisoners.
Marshal Gun Training on January 31, 2017.
Marshal Stakeholder Meeting
New Marshal Personnel Training on June 30, 2017.
Marshal Meeting on July 3, 2017
HUMAN RESOURCE OFFICE
The CNMI Judiciary Staff on the 1st day of Professional Development on November 20, 2017. The event was held at the Pacific Islands Club Charley's Cabaret.
Michelle V. Guerrero Human Resource / Administrative Officer
Michelle Guerreo, Divana Dela Cruz, and Michael Villacrusis assists in the Professional Development training.
The Human Resource Office is responsible for providing a comprehensive human resource program, including:
Policy development and administration
Recruitment of qualified applicants into a diverse workforce
Employment and orientation services
Administration of employee benefits, including health, retirement, and life insurance programs
Position classification, salary administration, employee relations, training, and professional development
LRC Executive Director Shiela N. Trianni delivers remarks to the staff.
John Demapan, Delia Magofna, Rebecca Santos, and Vivian Dela Cruz listens to the seminars.
Deputy Director of Courts Sonia A. Camacho recieves a certificate from the Judges and Justices.
Judiciary employees holding discussions on court professionalism.
Professional Development Training for the CNMI Judiciary Staff on November 20 - 21, 2017
Systems Administrator Michael C. Villacrusis and Computer Specialist John B. Demapan
Information Systems Unit Staff Development
The newly adopted CNMI Judiciary Mission Statement states, "To ensure an independent judiciary that provides impartial, timely, responsive and accountable judicial services focused on the continuous pursuit of judicial excellence."
"...continuous pursuit of judicial excellence," what better way is there to accomplish this part of the mission statement than to invest in the development of personnel which is the backbone of the CNMI Judiciary. Improving the personnel's skill sets to better equip them in performing their duties will eventually lead to the improvement of all judicial services, satisfying the court’s mission.
In 2017, the Information Systems Unit was especially fortunate to have been able to not only avail of the in-house personnel development held regularly, but was also given a chance to expand our horizons by attending the 2017 Court Technology Conference and the 2017 NMC IT Boot Camp.
Michael Villacrusis, Systems Administrator for the CNMI Judiciary, along with Associate Justice Perry B. Inos attended the 2017 Court Technology Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah on September 12 - 14, 2017. Held annually, the conference focuses on the current issues judiciaries have to face with changes in technology and provides insights on newly developed technology available to the Judiciary to improve its internal processes. The conference also provides the opportunity to meet with a variety of vendors who specialize in these fields and establish networks for future advancements.
John Demapan, Computer Specialist I, was enrolled into the NMC IT Boot Camp for training held on July 24, 2017 to August 04, 2017. The course attended is on network technology and security, which is a hot topic in today's technological world that focuses on the improvement of network security skills to battle cyber security threats.
PJC Biennial Conference
Held every two years, the Pacific Judicial Conference was hosted by the CNMI in 2017 and was held at Fiesta Resort Saipan from September 26 - 29, 2017. This event hosted the leaders from different courts throughout the pacific region in a conference to discuss the challenges they have faced in the different jurisdictions and the progress they have achieved.
Though the Information Systems Unit was a behind the scenes entity for this event, being the host of such an important conference required the smooth operation of all technological elements that were being utilized on site for the actual conference and offsite for the preparation of materials.
Logistics, operations, and troubleshooting of audio, video, and printing equipment were provided by onsite ISU personnel, while daily website updates for event materials and newsletter graphic support was performed offsite by ISU.
Supreme Court Off Site Oral Argument
As part of the CNMI Judiciary's efforts to provide access to justice, the CNMI Supreme Court has been holding oral arguments outside the Supreme Court courtroom. In 2017, oral arguments were held at Northern Marianas College, Kagman High School, Rota Superior Court, and Tinian Superior Court. While these proceedings may have been held outside their typical setting, they are still subject to the same standards. This means that each of these locations had to be equipped with a standard audio recording unit with corresponding microphones, as well as projection units.
Interactive televisions installed around the courthouse.
Tinian Sound System Replacement
The Tinian Superior Court courtroom has been operating with an obsolete sound system for about 10 years now and has come to a point where servicing the equipment was no longer possible. A new set of sound equipment and microphones were put in place in 2017, with further improvements to be made in 2018.
Many technological upgrades were conducted thoughout the Judiciary to further increase the efficiency of the personnel and ease the stress of being short on staff while still providing impeccable service to the public. Dual Monitors were installed in the Superior Court courtrooms, the supreme and superior judicial assistants' offices, and the Superior Court clerk of court office. This was upgraded from single monitor installations to improve multitasking in these locations. Because clerks and judicial assistants run multiple programs to conduct their daily tasks, having two monitors helps these positions function more efficiently. Some new computers and laptops were also added to locations that previously had no units and were assigned sharing computers. By having individual computers, staff can freely work on assigned tasks while not having to wait on each other.
The Building Maintenance Division oversees the courthouses on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The day-to-day operations of the division include ground maintenance, lighting and ballast replacement, repainting of offices, court personnel requests, monthly preventative maintenance, as well as setup for events such as public hearings, meetings, honorary retirement ceremonies, and the Mock Trial Academy.
Gerald E. Weaver
Raymond Babauta leads the bulb and ballast replacement project in the Guma' Hustisia.
Gerald E. Weaver attending a seminar.
Jury Room Repairs
Secure Parking Gate Repair
The staff hallway looks spotless after the tile replacement.
GRANTS ADMINISTRATION OFFICE
This report summarizes the Judiciary’s 2017 success in obtaining financial assistance in the form of grants from federal and local government entities. The table below reveals applications were made for $1.2 million in funding; $538,661 was secured, an amount 3.6%% greater than in 2016. Among the noteworthy items on the listing was the $180,000 amount secured for the new Drug Court Program. A grant through the governor’s office for Mold Remediation was also obtained which will provide valuable technical advice on the means of best eradicating our main building’s lingering mold issues. Our Department of the Interior Compact Impact award (last item on the table) fell by $21,893 or 12.9% from the amount received in 2016. The entire award to the CNMI was unchanged 2016 vs. 2017 at $2.282 million. To maintain the Judiciary’s share of Compact Impact funding, additional efforts were made in the development of statistics for the 2018 award so as to capture the full number of citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau served by the CNMI Judiciary.
James W. Stowell
Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society Exec. Director
In addition to applying for and administering grants, efforts continued through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Rural Development Loan Program to obtain favorable low interest rate federal assistance in the amount of $6.7 million for the expansion and improvement of the Judiciary’s court facilities on all three islands. Whereas 2016 saw the completion of the application for the loan, including environmental reports, in 2017 efforts were focused on answering historical preservation concerns related to prospective building construction’s infringement into the archeological important cultural layer near the surface at the main prospective construction site.
The topographic survey mapping conducted by a local engineering firm strongly supported the belief that in-fill earth covering had been laid down at the time of the building’s original construction and new engineered fill, added as necessary at the property’s lower elevations would leave the cultural layer undisturbed by new construction. The validity of the survey work had to be proven with actual trench diggings. This excavation work found the archeologically sensitive earth under the original earth in-fill at the level where the engineers had said it would be. The application to the USDA was amended with this information which had satisfied the Saipan Historical Preservation Office.
Excavation work at the Guma' Hustisia premises.
Additional project and finance-related enhancements to the application continued right until the time the local office of the USDA on Guam finished their review and underwriting work. The application with the Guam office recommendations for funding was sent to Hawaii for review at the regional level in mid-October.
Archaelogical remains unearthed by a local engineering firm
Judges in the Classroom outreach programs on the islands of Tinian and Rota.
NORTHERN MARIANAS JUDICIARY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
As the New Year began, the Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society had seen legislation pass both houses of the legislature that provided an education tax credit for donations made to the tax exempt organization. The governor, who expressed concern about an increasing drain on tax revenues posed by education tax credits generally, vetoed the bill.
In addition to sponsoring the educational Mock Trial Competition, the Attorney General’s Cup and the Poster Essay Contest held around Law Day celebration, the Historical Society sponsored the seventh Law and the Freshman Legislator seminar, a biennial seminar conducted by the Judiciary specifically designed for incoming legislators. The half-day program included a condensed course on the Covenant and Constitution, an overview of the judicial process, and an opportunity for interactive dialogue between first-time representatives and members of the Judiciary.
As the fall term began, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on both Rota and Tinian. Students were invited to attend the proceedings. The justices and staff members held question and answer sessions after oral arguments concluded. Chief Justice Castro said, “The Judges and Justices in the Classroom program has been a great success on Saipan, and we want to extend the same opportunity to all of our students on Tinian and Luta.”
LRC Staff from left: Staff Attorney Colby K. Stewart, Website and Office Manager Albert A. Hicking, Executive Director Sheila N. Trianni, Publications Clerk and Administrative Assistant Kelsey O. George, and Staff Attorney Ryan J. Meyerhoff
The Law Revision Commission (LRC) is established by 1 CMC § 3801 and is charged with certain responsibilities and authorities throughout 1 CMC §§ 3801–3810. To fulfill LRC’s mandates, LRC personnel review all Commonwealth public laws, local laws, and promulgated administrative regulations and modify the Commonwealth Code (CMC) and the Northern Mariana Island Administrative Code (NMIAC) to implement the changes made by all new permanent laws and regulations. The LRC also publishes the decisions rendered by the NMI Supreme Court in a reporter series with a headnoting system, and periodically revises and publishes a digest containing those headnotes, as mandated. Pursuant to its publication mandates, LRC maintains and updates its website (cnmilaw.org) to represent the current state of the law in the Commonwealth, whether executive, legislative, or judicial. The LRC’s website contains the CMC, the NMIAC, public and local laws, decisions of the Supreme Court, court rules, decisions and orders of the Superior Court that have been designated for publication, Executive Orders, Attorney General Opinions, local ordinances, the Commonwealth Registers,proposed and emergency regulations, and historical legal materials. Ensuring the current state-of-the-law is properly reflected and made available to the public is an ongoing and labor-intensive process that requires daily review and revision. In addition to continuous modification to the website, LRC personnel prepare tracking documents, update source and reference tables, create monthly master files to provide accurate historical law access, and compile documents to publish various print publications.
Public Laws, Local Laws, and the Commonwealth Code
In 2017, the LRC uploaded 36 public laws and 19 local laws from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to its website that became effective. Each law received is uploaded to the LRC website making the laws easily available in PDF format almost immediately after receipt by LRC. The LRC has public and local laws for the First Legislature through the Twentieth Legislature readily available on its website. In addition to the public and local laws, the LRC receives local ordinances, which it also converts and uploads to the website making them searchable and easily accessible. The LRC uploaded 357 separate sections of permanent law to the CMC database available on its website. In addition, LRC personnel incorporated those changes into the print version of the supplement to the CMC, which is updated for print publication biannually. The changes to the CMC include both wholly new CMC sections and amendments to existing CMC sections. Each section requires careful review of grammar, content, numbering, references, and uniformity prior to codification.
The revised 2017 Driver’s Handbook is now available in 13 individual languages, which are sold separately for $5.00 per book.
The 2017 Driver’s Handbook Set compilation
includes all 13 languages in a single-book set, which is sold for $50.00.
Commonwealth Registers and NMIAC
Commonwealth Registers are provided to the LRC after printing by the Office of the Attorney General. In 2017, the LRC reviewed, converted, and uploaded the twelve regular and two addendum Registers published in 2017, which consisted of over 1,413 pages. The conversion and upload process makes the content of the Registers searchable, downloadable, and easily locatable. In 2017, the LRC modified its website to include several additional links and pages related to information that is published in the Commonwealth Register. A page dedicated to Proposed Regulations, which are regulations that have been proposed but not yet adopted, was created to ensure that the public can easily find regulations that are being considered for adoption and those that may be open for comment.
LRC Staff Training
Legal staff participated in on-island continuing legal education, and attended the Association of Codifiers and Registers (ACR) section of the National Association of Secretaries of State conference and the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions conference. LRC’s Executive Director presented on the creation and development of Commonwealth Law and the functions of the LRC to the ACR section of the National Association of Secretaries of States conference. Continuing legal educations was necessary to assist staff in carrying out their duties and ensured continued compliance with licensing requirements in the CNMI during 2017. In addition, LRC personnel that provide the majority of front-desk customer service, Office/Website Manager Albert Hicking and Publications Clerk/Administrative Assistant Kelsey George, attended the Customer Service Excellence Seminar at the Chamber of Commerce on April 20, 2017, where they learned about areas of knowledge, goals, networking, and steps to ensure the delivery of exceptional customer service at the LRC.
Presenters and attendees from the Judicial and Legislative Branches pose for a photo during a break at the Researching Basic Law Professional Development on May 19, 2017.
The Essay and Poster Contest Entries displayed on May 3, 2017. The contest is part of the Judiciary's community outreach to educate about the legal system.
2017 Essay and Poster Day Contest Winners
The 2017 Essay and Poster winners with friends and family. Submissions came from public and private schools across Saipan. Winning entries received cash prizes, history books, and gift certificates.
7th LAW AND THE FRESHMAN LEGISLATOR SEMINAR
LAW AND THE FRESHMAN LEGISLATOR
Front row (from left): Rep. Donald C. Barcinas, Rep. Ivan A. Blanco, Rep. Alice S. Igitol, Rep. Jose I. Itibus, Rep. Francisco C. Aguon, and Rep. Gregorio M. Sablan, Jr. Back row, from left: Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho, and Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio.
The CNMI Judiciary conducted its 7th Law and the Freshman Legislator seminar on January 6, 2017, at the Guma' Hustisia in Susupe. Six newly elected legislators participated in the seminar, all of whom serve in the House of Representatives.
NEW COURT FEES
The new Judiciary fees were effective on March 1, 2017. For a complete listing, click here.
Guests from the Manamko' Center led the courthouse as justices and judges for their visit on May 15, 2017.
Manamko' Takeover Day
2017 Summer Law Clerk Gordon Anderson from UC Davis School of Law.
7th Cycle Cadet Swearing-In Ceromony held on August 10. 2017.
Drug Court and CHCC Meeting on June 21, 2017.
Attorney admission ceremony for Jose Mafnas and Hyun Jae Lee on October 13, 2017.
Chief Justice Castro leads the celebration
1st and 2nd Quarter Staff Birthday Celebrations
Nora Borja, James Stowell, and Irene San Nicolas
Law Clerks and Law Revision Staff
Michelle Guerrero and Lynette Camacho
Various stakeholders from other government entities address their concerns on the Pacific Judicial Council Conference.
Pacific Judicial Council Planning Committee
September 13, 2017
SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE WESLEY M. BOGDAN
The CNMI judiciary, Judicial Council, and Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society hosted an investiture ceremony for Wesley M. Bogdan, associate judge of the CNMI Superior Court. The ceremony took place Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in the Supreme Court courtroom at 10 a.m.
On May 12, 2017, Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres nominated Bogdan, the executive branch’s legal counsel, to fill the vacancy that occurred on the Superior Court bench May 19, 2016, with the retirement of Associate Judge David A. Wiseman.
After his nomination, Bogdan, 59, appeared before the Senate Committee on Executive Appointment and Government Investigation. Following the committee's recommendation, the full Senate voted unanimously to confirm Bogdan as an associate judge. On Aug. 16, 2017 he was duly commissioned with Governor Torres administering the oath of office.
Bogdan worked in the CNMI government as legal counsel to then-Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider in 2013 and as legal counsel in the office of then-Gov. Eloy S. Inos and then Lt. Gov.-Ralph D.L.G. Torres in 2014. He served in this portion until his appointment to the Superior Court.
Bogdan obtained his juris doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law and bachelor’s degree in business and political science from the University of Texas. He was admitted to the CNMI Bar Association in 1998 and served as a past chairman of the organization’s continuing legal education committee and as a member of the CNMI Bar Association’s Disciplinary Committee.
Bogdan’s law career began after law school as a judicial clerk in his home state of New Mexico for the New Mexico Court of Appeals in Albuquerque, where he worked from 1992 to 1994. He moved to the CNMI thereafter and held assistant attorney general and assistant public defender positions. He also worked in private practice with the Law Offices of Brian McMahon, Eric Smith, Joshua Berger and the O’Connor, Berman, Dotts, and Banes Law Firm.
From 2009 to 2012, Bogdan worked off-island as the deputy director of the legal department for the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
During the last four years in the executive branch as legal counsel and senior policy advisor, Bogdan was involved in all legal issues and environmental matters, particularly with respect to military affairs. He notably assisted with the location and construction of the United States Air Force’s Divert Project and the United States Marine Corps CNMI Joint Military Training Project.
Bogdan was chief legal counsel to Governor Torres during the Covenant Section 902 consultations that were completed late last year; they were the first to result in a report to the president that has been transmitted to the U.S. Congress.
His activities in the CNMI community have included serving as a judge for mock trial and speech competitions and as an adjunct instructor of business law at Northern Marianas College. Within the local sports community, he has participated as a youth team coach and executive committee member of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association.
CHIEF JUSTICE CASTRO IS FOURTH NON-RESIDENT
JUSTICE OF THE PALAU SUPREME COURT
On May 22, 2017, the President of the Republic of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., administered the oath of office to Commonwealth Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro as the newest and fourth non-resident Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the Palau Supreme Court.
The swearing-in ceremony was witnessed by several members of the Palauan delegation - including the members of the Palau Judiciary, Vice President Raynold B. Oiluch, Senate President Hokkons Baules and members of the Senate, Speaker Sabino Anastacio, and members of the House of Delegates. Also in attendance were Commonwealth Supreme Court Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, CNMI Lieutenant Governor Victor B. Hocog, and Chief Justice Castro's wife Carmen, as well as his family and friends.
Castro has been a member of the CNMI Judiciary for almost 28 years. In 1989, he ascended to the bench as an Associate Judge for the CNMI Superior Court. In 1993, he became the Presiding Judge. Five years later, he was nominated and confirmed to the Commonwealth Supreme Court as an Associate Justice. On October 11, 2012, he was sworn in as the Chief Justice.
Castro was born on April 2, 1952 on Tinian and was raised on the island of Rota by his grandmother. He is married to Carmen Moses Castro of Anguar, Palau, and together they have six children - Patrick, Evonne, Eric, Junior, Rodney and Ariel.
MAY 22, 2017 . THE REPUBLIC OF PALAU
How long have you been working for the Superior Court?
Since January 2012.
What is your background in terms of education and work experience?
Did some college (NMC) and technical schools (Clearwater, Florida and San Antonio, Texas). I worked at the CNMI Immigration for 18 years extending to the Office of the Attorney General (assignment in 2003 and then in 2009) and the CNMI Passport Office (assignment 1995 to 1998 and then again in 2009 to 2011). The Office of the Attorney was the umbrella agency for the CNMI Immigration and CNMI Passport Office. I started with CNMI Immigration in 1991 as a Clerk Typist III and worked my way to Immigration Officer I. I became a 2nd Lieutenant by the time the CNMI Immigration was transitioning and the United States Customs & Border Patrol gained control of the CNMI Port of Entry by 2009. My first assignment with the OAG was assisting the AAG with Family Court cases and my second assignment was handling deportation cases. I became a certified US Passport Acceptance Agent for the CNMI Passport Office during my time there.
What are your responsibilities as the Judicial Assistant to AJ Kenneth L. Govendo?
Where do I even begin? There are so many. I maintain and facilitate the coordination of the chamber - orders, docket activities; assist the judge’s designated law clerk and courtroom clerk; track and provide all published opinions; I manage AJKLG’s File and Serve; assist with conferences, events, joint session investitures; I interact with COC, OAP, FCD, ASU – this is a constant particularly because I am the Superior Court Timekeeper, as well.
Do you have anything else to add?
It’s a pleasure working for the CNMI Judiciary. I feel that if I had started work for the Judiciary when I started in government, I would be here as long as I was with the previous agencies that I worked for.
Rebecca R. Santos, Judicial Assistant to Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo
Q&A Session with
Olga Y. Bykov, Law Clerk to Associate Justice John A. Manglona
How long have you been working for the Supreme Court?
I began my clerkship with Justice Manglona on August 28, 2017.
What is your background in terms of education and work experience?
I graduated from UC Davis School of Law in May of 2017. While in law school, I explored my legal interests in a variety of positions. I externed at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, worked as a research fellow for the California Constitution Center, and served as a research assistant for two law professors, to name a few.
What are your responsibilities as Law Clerk?
My responsibilities include drafting Supreme Court opinions, bench memos, and orders. I also assist with administrative needs such as drafting press releases and website articles.
How do you define success?
Success is a combination of working hard to achieve your goals and feeling satisfied while doing so.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and going to the beach.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
Passing the California bar examination.
What's your most favorite thing while working at the court?
One of my favorite things is the familial environment at the court. I have enjoyed getting to know employees from different divisions. My (other) favorite thing would be the invaluable mentorship I receive from Justice Manglona.
JOHN PETER DUENAS DEL ROSARIO
Probation Officer II
The Judicial Council Meeting held on January 25, 2017 at the CNMI Supreme Court.
Office of the Clerk of Court
Table 2.3. Cases Filed Five Year Trend
Table 4. Single Status Affidavit for Marriage
Commonwealth Recorder's Office
Table 3. Marriage Certificates
Table 5. Officiated Marriages
Table 8. Maps
Table 7. Uniform Commercial Code Filings
Table 9. Electronic or Print Copies of Maps
The Judiciary, Northern Mariana Islands
P.O. Box 502165 Saipan, MP 96950
Northern Marianas Judiciary