Rota • Aguigan • Tinian • Saipan • Farallon de Medinilla • Anatahan • Sarigan • Guguan • Alamagan • Pagan • Agrihan • Asuncion • Maug • Farallon de Pajaros
Post Typhoon Clean-Up
Professional Development Training
2018 ANNUAL REPORT
$7M Guma' Hustisa Mold Remediation Planning
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
Law Revision Commission
Special Assistant for Administration, Shirley P. Camacho-Ogumoro, meets with court managers to discuss alternate Judiciary sites following the shutdown of the Guma' Hustisia to the general public on March 16, 2018.
2018 Annual Report |
Table of Contents
Associate Justice, John A. Manglona
Director of Courts, Sonia A. Camacho
The aerial eye view of the Guma' Hustisia on the cover page was taken after a direct hit from Super Typhoon Yutu on October 24 and 25, 2018.
Magdiel Job A. Corpuz
Martha B. Mendiola
Gretchen A. Smith
SAA MEETING WITH COURT MANAGERS
Various community stakeholders from the public and private sector attend the Human Trafficking Training presented by Dr. John A. Martin.
WM Engineering Services, LLC conducts a mold assessment meeting in January 2018.
On November 2, 2018, Judiciary staff teamed up with the Saipan Mayor's Office and U.S. National Guard to clear out storm debris around the Guma' Hustisia. U.S. National Guard Private Linson Manahan and Private Greg Mafnas provided logistical coordination. Groups rotated throughout the day and collected various debris items such as foreign objects, green waste, and obstructive materials. The Judiciary thanks its community partners and volunteers for their unwavering support. These partnerships are part of the ongoing recovery efforts after a direct hit by Super Typhoon Yutu on Saipan and Tinian on October 24, 2018.
The year 2018 proved to be a tumultuous year for the NMI Judiciary. The closure of the Guma’ Hustisia and the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yutu proved to be significant obstacles for the Judiciary and the entire community. Despite these challenges, the NMI Judiciary continues to provide services and aims to serve justice for the community at large.
The Judiciary ensures its staff provide efficient and comprehensive services by staying current with information technology. Courtroom clerks and judicial assistants from both the Superior and the Supreme Court attended a courtroom clerk’s training in Chuuk. While there, they learned essential skills including the difference between legal advice and legal information, and how to conduct oneself on social media. This, among many other topics, are vital to maintaining public trust and confidence in the judicial system.
The Judiciary also continued to strengthen its presence in its community outreach to the CNMI’s youth. The annual CNMI High School Mock Trial Competition and Junior High Mock Trial was hosted by the Judiciary in partnership with various agencies and organizations. Additionally, the NMI Supreme Court held oral arguments outside of the courtroom and inside the classroom at Marianas High School, Mount Carmel School, Northern Marianas College, and Saipan Southern High School. The Judiciary also joined in on the annual Youth Take Over Day with a number of judges and justices participating.
Part of the Judiciary's efforts to recover and move forward included working with the executive and legislative branches to secure $7 million for the remediation and rehabilitation of the Guma’ Hustisia. Judiciary officials and staff were instrumental in securing this funding and effectuating the various procurement and recovery documents.
Our resilience can and will withstand the difficulties of 2018. The Judiciary has overcome hurdles in years past and will continue to in the years to come. We must always face each day head on and keep the spirit of the CNMI alive.
"...the NMI Judiciary continues to provide services and aims to serve justice for the community at large".
Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro
message from the
Article IV of the NMI Constitution and Title 1, Division 3, Chapter 1 of the Commonwealth Code (1 CMC §§ 3101–3108) addresses jurisdiction, appellate and other powers and responsibilities of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the Northern Mariana Islands. Established by Article IV of the NMI Constitution and Public Law 6-25, the Court reviews appealed decisions of the Superior Court. The Supreme Court is tasked with deciding issues of law on appeal.
In September 2018, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, held oral arguments at the Northern Marianas College as part of the Justices in the Classroom community outreach. After oral arguments, Justices interact with the students by answering questions on the functions of the appellate court and legal profession.
Clerk of Court
Supreme Court Law Clerks with the Youth Take Over participants.
The Justices, Clerk of Court, and judicial law clerks spend many hours researching in order to render fair and well-reasoned opinions. Because the Supreme Court is only 29 years old, many of its cases are of first impression—presenting novel legal issues in this jurisdiction. As such, extensive research and consideration is required to properly develop new areas of jurisprudence.
The Supreme Court continues to resolve appeals in a fair and timely matter. In 2018, the Court issued numerous opinions, orders, press releases. In doing so, the public remains informed of court decisions.
The Court is commited to fostering positive relationships with the public by hosting outreach and educational events. These include Justices and Judges in the Classroom, Mock Trial, and the Summer Pre-Law Program. In December 2017, the Judiciary Mock Trial Academy hosted approximately 100 high school students throughout the CNMI to take part in an extensive trial work program.
In 2018, the Court hosted a number of appellate sessions at Northern Marianas College, Marianas High School, Saipan Southern High School, and Mount Carmel High School. The Justices also participated in Youth Takeover Day, taking place in late fall of 2018.
The Justices held oral arguments at Mount Carmel School on September 2018.
Dismissed - Court
Dismissed - Voluntary
Case Disposition: Three-Year Trend
Case Filing Three-Year Trend
Pro Hac Vice
Certified Legal Intern
As part of its community outreach program, the Supreme Court court held its appellate session in Marianas High School on October 2018.
Commonwealth v. Bashar
2018 MP 1
Commonwealth v. Blas
2018 MP 2
Manglona, Inos, Maraman
PB Manglona Family Trust v. Estate of Manglona
2018 MP 3
Torres, Barcinas, Bordallo
Torres v. Manibusan
2018 MP 4
Castro, Manglona, Inos
Commonwealth v. Crisostomo
2018 MP 5
In re Estate of Norberto E. Pangelinan
2018 MP 6
Manibusan v. Larson
2018 MP 7
Castro, Manglona, Torres
In re the Commonwealth of the NMI
2018 MP 8
Manglona, Carbullido, Bellas
Commonwealth v. Calvo
2018 MP 9
Bellas, Wiseman, Camacho
In re Estate of Maria V. Pangelinan
2018 MP 10
2018 MP 11
Commonwealth v. Taitano
2018 MP 12
Commonwealth v. Borja
2018 MP 13
Commonwealth v. Babauta
2018 MP 14
Elameto v. Ramsey
2018 MP 15
Commonwealth v. Murphy
2018 MP 16
Teregeyo v. San Nicolas
2018 MP 17
Saltys Saipan Corp. v. Shakir
2018 MP 18
The Superior Court is established by Article IV of the NMI Constitution and has original jurisdiction over civil, criminal, and other specialized matters filed in the CNMI. The Clerk of the Superior Court, with offices in Rota, Tinian, and Saipan manages daily operations. The Judges, Clerk of Court, and judicial law clerks work diligently to review the numerous and varied filings.
From left to right: Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley M. Bogdan, Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho, and Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio.
See Appendix for additional data.
Clerk of Superior Court Patrick V. Diaz discusses cases of human trafficking with Dr. Martin.
The Superior Court staff continues to work diligently, efficiently handling the Court’s caseload. In 2018, the Superior Court received numerous new case filings: 443 civil cases, 102 criminal cases, 458 family court cases, 19 juvenile cases, 248 small claims cases, and 4,228 traffic cases.
In total, the Superior Court handled 5,498 new case filings in 2018, averaging over 15 new cases per day. New cases involve everything from court filings to motion hearings.
Clerk of Court
The Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court continues to train and develop its staff. Three deputy clerks attended the Pacific Judicial Council Courtroom Clerk training from August 6-8, 2018 in Pohnpei. Clerks networked with judicial employees from the rest of the Pacific region and trained on social media ethics and the difference between legal advice and legal information.
The Judiciary’s Annual Professional Development was also held in November 2018. Staff with exemplary commitment and accomplishments were awarded. Deputy Clerk I, Adeline Tereyama, was awarded Employee of the Year for the Office of the Clerk of Court, and Deputy Clerk III, Novelynn Wania-Tenorio, received the Presiding Judge Award for 2018. Deputy Clerks who attended the PJC’s training in Pohnpei also presented an overview of their learning and experience.
(Top - Down) Superior Court Clerk of Court staff during court sessions at the U.S. District Court for the NMI, Professional Development Day, and clean-up.
The Commonwealth Recorder's Office (CRO) is established pursuant to 1 CMC § 3701. The office is under the general supervision of the Presiding Judge and tasked with maintaining, updating, and retaining copies of marriage certificates, official land registration, other real estate, commercial, personal property documents, and other critical documents.
The recorder also indexes the documents, allowing ease of public access.
The Judiciary embarked on a large-scale map and document scanning project. The project allows for digital preservation of important documents and maps that are easily accesible and downloadable. This cuts costs, increases productivity, and ensures preservation.
As the population increases and the economy expands, the services of the CRO are frequently used. The number of document filing requests is expected to rise in FY 2020 due to economic expansion. The office strives to improve its processes, fulfills mandated duties, and meet the public’s demands.
Commonwealth Recorder's Office
Commonwealth Recorder Luise S. Deleon Guerrero prepares to scan maps.
Land and property files in the Commonwealth Recorder's Office located in the Guma' Hustisia.
Land Documents & All Others
Uniform Commercial Code Filings
Commonwealth Recorder Luise S. Deleon Guerrero and Clerk of the Superior Court Patrick V. Diaz.
After the shutdown of the air-condition system at the Guma' Hustisia, the Commonwealth Recorder's Office set up its temporary office in the RSAT Building.
A UCC-I financing statement serves as a lien on secured collateral. It is required for business loans under the Uniform Commercial Code.
During the early part of the recovery period, FCD staff helped the community by passing out relief goods at the San Antonio Youth Center.
Family Court Division
Number of People Requesting Assistance
The Family Court Division (FCD) is established by 1 CMC § 3205 and handles “family legal matters including, but not limited to, adoption proceedings, child support, divorce, paternity, domestic violence, child abuse cases, delinquency cases, and temporary restraining orders against family members.”
The FCD assists the Clerk of the Superior Court in processing pleadings and distributing orders for pro se litigants who appear before the family court judge. In addition to its administrative duties, FCD offers client services to families and individuals, and provides information and guidance on pro se family cases.
Family Court Staff (Left to Right): Monica V. Manibusan, Joseph Kevin P. Villagomez, Delia Calvo, and Nikita M. Cabrera.
The Family Court continues to help families seeking assistance. Over 4,000 (4,086) people requested assistance from the FCD in 2018.
In FY 2018, 477 cases were filed with the FCD. The FCD provides quick and efficient solutions to many public inquiries, including assistance with pro se filings. In 2018, the FCD assisted 1,344 people with pro se needs, provided 743 orders or pleadings for pick-up, gave general information to 1,482 patrons, and extended 517 referrals to other services.
To assist with these processes, FCD was awarded a grant allowing for the production of pamphlets providing information on the function of the family court division and information for what clients should expect in hearings.
Other litigation services provided by the Family Court include:
Alternative Dispute Resolution
DNA Paternity Supervision
Separating Parents Classes
OAP Staff with the Marshal Service Division in the Guma' Hustisia atrium.
The Office of Adult Probation (OAP) was established by 1 CMC § 3231. It has the authority to:
1. Supervise Pretrial and Post Conviction clients who are placed on probation.
2. Conduct Presentence Investigations and provide court reports.
3. Provide offender assistance through programs and services.
4. Refer probation clients for treatment and counseling services.
5. Recover restitution for victims.
6. Serve and execute bench warrants to those placed on probation.
7. Arrest and bring to court those placed on probation.
8. Conduct drug testing and home visits.
9. Create and file records on probation clients.
The Office of Adult Probation staff during the 2018 Professional Development Day. T-L: Berliann P. Higgins, Matilde H. Bermudes-Rasa, Barbara K. Santos Maliuyaf, Weena Gwendolyn T. Iguel, Sophia C. Geisinger, Michael B. Salas, B-L: Simram W. Simram, Juan R. Aguon, Nadia Mae B. Moses, Ursula I. Lifoifoi Aldan, Priscillia C. Camacho, Benjie Tyron G. Piteg.
The Office of Adult Probation continues to handle a high number of criminal and traffic cases.
At the start of 2018, OAP's database, the Probation Tracking System, recorded 2,659 cases that were carried over from the previous year. A total of 215 new cases were referred to the office - 149 traffic and 66 criminal. Of the criminal cases, 27 were STOP VAWA, and all 149 traffic cases were Driving Under the Influence cases. As a substantial portion of the new criminal cases are STOP VAWA cases, the OAP continues to address incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, and victim protection.
The OAP also executes numerous reports, appearances, and bench warrants. Although understaffed and underfunded, the OAP delivers services for law enforcement, public safety, and rehabilitation needs. Despite its challenges, the office continues to prioritize recruitment, training, and numerous programs and services in 2019.
Drug Court Division
Drug Court conducts a presentation of its services at Kotten Tinian in May 2018.
Established in 2015 by Public Law 19-14, the Drug Court is the CNMI’s first specialized, problem-solving court, incorporating drug and alcohol dependency treatment with intensive court supervision for eligible non-violent offenders. The development of a Drug Court is a response to the harmful effects of alcohol and methamphetamine abuse has in our community. The combined efforts of the Judiciary, Department of Public Safety, the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Public Defender, various community leaders, members of the legislature, the Community Guidance Center and the Executive Branch tackle these problems with evidence-based treatment programs. The Drug Court aims to enhance efficiency and sustainability, to increase public knowledge of treatment courts, and to strengthen internal and external relations. The Drug Court staff assists with day-to-day operations, while the Presiding Judge, assigned Judge, and Manager ensure the successful implementation of the program and other treatment programs. The staff also serve as liaison with other agencies and community programs, and performs data collection and analysis, grant writing, resource development, and public outreach and information.
National Drug Court Institute Trainers with Judges and Drug Court Manager.
Drug Court received 79 referrals between 2016 and 2018. There are currently 37 active cases, 6 pending cases, 11 deemed unsuitable for the program, 3 terminated due to new charges, and 22 successful graduates. Upon completing entrance protocols, 37 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.
Drug Court maintains a strong partnership with the Marshal Service Division, Department of Public Safety, Department of Corrections, and other law enforcement agencies to ensure participants are engaged in a comprehensive accountability track.
The Commonwealth Judiciary Administrative Office oversees the administrative functions and operations of the courts in Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. Accordingly, this Office must be staffed to assist the Chief Justice and the Presiding Judge in their administrative responsibilities. This office is tasked with implementing the Judicial Council’s policies and strategic plans.
Bench members and court managers attend the swearing-in ceremony for Director of Courts Sonia A. Camacho and Chief Marshal Jason T. Tarkong in January 2018.
JUDICIARY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
Director Camacho was sworn in January 12, 2018. Camacho’s new role involves the supervision of personnel with the CNMI Judiciary Administrative Office. She oversees the Judiciary’s policy development and planning, court performance monitoring, and assists 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 judicial assistant to then Associate Judge Edward E. Manibusan. She has since served four chief justices and three presiding judges. Prior to her recent appointment, Camacho was the special assistant to the Presiding Judge and Deputy Director of Courts, and assisting the Chief Justice as acting Director of Courts. She has served on 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
Sonia A. Camacho
Director Camacho addresses the Judiciary staff on the Guma' Hustisia' closure after the breakdown of the air-conditioning system in March 2018.
The Judiciary's Language Access Policy and Plan (LAPP) enhances judicial services for the public. Patrons may avail of language assistance services in English, Chamorro, Carolinian, Tagalog, Korean, Mandarin/Cantonese, Japanese, Russian, Yapese, Ponapean, Palauan, Chuukese, Kosraen, and Marshallese. For additional information, please contact (670) 236-9700, approach the nearest service counter, or email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy and Plan
The FY 2019 Budget Judicial Branch Request amounting to $15,430,682.00.
The ASU's functions include: 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.
Court payments are being received at temporary service windows at the Guma' Hustisia.
The ASU also assists 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 the Chief Probation Officer in reconciling restitution amounts and probationer payee information. The Unit is comprised of four staff members: Budget and Finance Director John T. Villagomez, Accountant II Evelyn P. Calvo, Accountant I Jason Kelley, and Accountant I Catherine C. Licop-Mendoza.
Budget and Finance Director John T. Villagomez speaks at a General Assembly in May 2018.
MSD training with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in July 2018.
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 security for justices and judges outside of judiciary grounds and while on official business;
serving various forms of process;
and assisting in transporting prisoners.
The Marshal Service Division staff at the Guma' Hustisia atrium.
On January 8, 2018, Jason Tarkong was sworn in as the new Chief Marshal. His appointment spearheaded the improvement of the division’s organization. Since Chief Tarkong’s swearing in, the division has emphasized physical fitness, firearm safety, and professionalism.
In 2018, the Marshals Service Division continued to execute its priorities of improving court security and bench protection. The division facilitated 58,033 courthouse entries, confiscated 338 prohibited items, brought 592 detainees to the courthouse, executed 570 bench warrants, and served 226 jury summonses. Additional training and revisions of internal operating procedures are needed to further improve the services of the MSD. The MSD was instrumental in securing the safety of bench members and the public at the Judiciary's alternate sites since the closure of the Guma' Hustisia. Additionally, it assisted the Drug Court Division in its overnight operations to ensure the safety of Drug Court staff. Despite the staff shortage, the MSD continues to provide support to the Judiciary.
Bench members and MSD staff congratulate Chief Marshal Tarkong.
The family of Chief Marshal Tarkong attend the ceremony.
Newly sworn-in Chief Marshal Jason T. Tarkong
Jason Tarkong joined the CNMI Judiciary after over 25 years in various law enforcement posts with the Commonwealth. Leaving his latest post as a police lieutenant with the Department of Public Safety, Tarkong brings to the Marshal Service Division his experience in investigative and police work, and program management.
While at DPS, Tarkong had served as officer-in-charge of the Bike Patrol Unit and Sex Offender Registry, Crime Stoppers coordinator, certified firearms instructor, former range master and armorer, public information officer, and SWAT team leader.
Tarkong’s new role involve the supervision of deputy marshals and the handling of all aspects of court security management, including safety and security protocols for members of the bench, court personnel, service providers, consumers, proceedings, and facilities.
Administrative/Human Resources Specialist Sarah P. Cabrera and Human Resources/Administrative Officer Michelle V. Guerrero.
Kimberly Mendiola from Systems of Care presents at the 2018 Judiciary Professional Development Day held at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.
The Human Resources 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.
Human Resources works closely with each division of the court and supports and responds to personnel needs. In addition to performing the normal daily functions, it was involved in the following activities:
HR Records Digitalization;
Fair Labor Standards Act Sessions;
Super Typhoon Yutu Recovery Efforts;
Professional Development &
Initially slated for November 19-20, 2018, at the Pacific Islands Club, this event was then set on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Saipan. Typically an annual two-day event, it was shortened due to a limited schedule and venue change as a result of Super Typhoon Yutu’s impact. The agenda included:
Team building conducted by the Drug Court Division;
Introduction to the Legal Language and Legal Advice v. Legal Information;
Creative Thinking Skills Through Art
Workforce Management Training
HR had the opportunity to attend the Workforce Management three day training held in Williamsburg, Virginia. The instructor was Deborah Mason who is the Executive Director of Human Resources for the National State Center for State Courts and has been with the NCSC since 1998. Participants learned about laws that impact workforce management in courts. Sessions also focused on how sound workforce practices, policies, and procedures help a court achieve legal compliance, and how poor attention to detail, infective communication, and lack of follow-through can create employment issues with significant legal consequences.
LRC Executive Director and General Counsel Hyun Jae Lee donated gift certificates to a local cafe.
Super Typhoon yutu relief drive
The donation table at the Marianas Business Plaza alternate site.
On December 12, 2018, the Judiciary hosted a relief drive at the Marianas Business Plaza for affected staff. The donations came from the U.S. District Court for the NMI, justices, judges, and court staff. Donated items included food, toiletries, batteries, fans, cleaning products, gift certificates, and laundry detergent.
The relief drive continued for over a month with donations replenished weekly.
Computer Specialist Jorale Mendoza sets up the technological equipment in preparation for the 2018 Professional Development Day.
Information Systems Unit
Systems Administrator Michael C. Villacrusis assessing connectivity issues at the Guma' Hustisia.
The IT Team assesses Super Typhoon Yutu damages.
The Judiciary recognizes technological modernization as a key investment to the efficient delivery of court services. It successfully acquired funds for desktop computers, laptops, audio and video equipment, terminal servers, and battery backup units.
Systems Administrator Michael C. Villacrusis and Computer Specialist Jorale A. Mendoza work tirelessly to serve all three island courts.
The temporary front extension serves as a payment and filing center.
Building Superintendent Gerald E. Weaver makes a report at the January 2018 Judicial Council meeting.
Maintenance Staff Raymond Babauta makes window repairs as part of the rehabilitation project.
The Building Maintenance oversees the day-to-day operations of the Judiciary, including ground maintenance, lighting and ballast replacement, repainting of offices, court personnel requests, and monthly preventative maintenance. They also assist in setups for public hearings, meetings, and Judiciary ceremonies.
Building Superintendent Gerald E. Weaver and Maintenance Staff Raymond C. Babauta provide much needed support to keep the facilities up and running.
Dr. John A. Martin meets with Department of Youth Services staff to discuss emerging trends in human trafficking.
At least two of the CNMI Judiciary’s Seven Strategic Plan goals were directly fufilled by the Grants Office in 2018.
Addressing Needs through Non-adversarial Models
The State Justice Institute Human Trafficking Grant to the Judiciary was performed by consultant Dr. John A. Martin under contract with the Center for Public Policy Studies. The Grant addresses a pressing need for greater Judiciary understanding of non-adversarial models.
Judiciary staff members spent over 800 hours in training and related discussions with Dr. Martin. Training focused on human trafficking identification and the scope and efficiency of the Judiciary’s case processing related to human trafficking. The justices and judges attended over 125 hours of sessions and discussions.
Grants Administrator James W. Stowell provides updates about the Judiciary's grant projects.
Dr. Martin holds a one-on-one training with Justices, Judges, and Court Managers.
Typhoon Soudelor compounded the window condensation problem.
The exposed Atrium skylight is one of the damages caused by Super Typhoon Yutu.
FEMA Program Delivery Manager Colby Wright conducts a site inspection following Super Typhoon Yutu.
A Robust Judiciary through Facilities Renovation and Expansion
The renovation and repair work associated with FEMA public assistance funding for Super Typhoon Soudelor in August 2015 neared completion in October of 2018. After a long procurement process, perimeter fences were repaired and improved with concrete pillars. All of the parking lot lights were returned to operation.
The first request for reimbursement under Typhoon Soudelor was successfully processed: a $151,000 generator operation reimbursement. Super Typhoon Yutu repair and replacement estimates has begun and training on the FEMA portal has taken place and put to practice. Based on the numbers being seen, Yutu will prove to have been at least five times, possibly seven times costlier and destructive than Soudelor.
Director of Courts Sonia A. Camacho and Grants Administrator James W. Stowell attend the USDA Public – Private Partnership USDA Western Pacific Region Conference from May 14 - 15, 2018.
June - September 2018 Update:
•USDA requires qualified certified public accountant’s review and opinion of the loan’s repayment feasibility.
•Dave Burger, CPA of Burger, Comer, Magliari is commissioned by the Judiciary to perform the feasibility review which is provided to the USDA loan review committee along with a Sensitivity Analysis.
•Department of Finance provides required 90 day current CNMI Government Revenue and Expense Report.
Public Law 19-67, signed by Governor Torres on Sept 27, 2016 amends CMC § 3405 and authorizes the Commonwealth to enter into a loan agreement with the USDA for a sum not to exceed $15,000,000. Other authorizations include:
1) Pay-off the original Judicial Building Fund Loan held by the Northern Marianas Settlement Fund with a then $4.5 million balance and 7.5% interest rate;
2) Expand and renovate Justice System facilities of the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Public Defender and of the Judiciary on the islands of Saipan, Rota and Tinian;
3) Create a natural disaster facility for continuous operations at 1361 Capitol Hill which will house the Judiciary’s back-up servers, records retrieval systems, and be the site of a temporary emergency courtroom facility;
4) Enhance floor plan utilization at the Guma’ Hustisia to better accommodate evolving public requirements;
5) Provide more room for successful programs like the Drug Court and mediation programs; and
6) Make space available for new specialty court offices and facilities.
usda loan update
The revised 2017 Driver’s Handbook is now available in 13 individual languages.
Executive Director Hyun Jae Lee,Website/Office Manager Albert A. Hicking, and Publications Clerk and Administrative Assistant Kelsey O. George pose with the Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan, and members of the 21st CNMI Legislature.
The Law Revision Commission (LRC) has public and local laws for the First Legislature through the Twentieth Legislature readily available on its website. Also, LRC receives local ordinances which it converts and uploads to the website making them searchable and easily accessible.
The LRC uploaded over 350 separate sections of permanent law to the Commonwealth Code database available on its website. It incorporated those changes into the print version of the code supplement. Each section requires careful review of grammar, content, numbering, references, and uniformity prior to codification.
Law Revision Commission
The homepage of the CNMI Law Revision Commission website.
Law Revision Commission
P.O. Box 502179 Saipan, MP 96950
LRC’s website contains a number of resources including: the Commonwealth Code; the Administrative Code; public and local laws; Supreme Court opinions; 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. Continuously maintaining updated laws is a labor intensive process requiring 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.
Super Typhoon Yutu
Damages around the Guma' Hustisia facilities.
On October 24 - 25, Super Typhoon Yutu pounded through the Northern Mariana Islands with sustained winds of 180 mph. The Guma' Hustisia suffered tremendous damage never before seen in its history.
In the News:
Super Typhoon Yutu
The Judiciary extends its appreciation to its partners for providing alternate office spaces during the Guma' Hustisia shutdown resulting from the HVAC system failure and typhoon damages. Its partners include the Office of the Governor, the U.S. District Court for the NMI, the Department of Public Saferty, Northern Marianas College, and the Department of Homeland Security. The alternate spaces were critical in providing judicial services to the general public.
Mold Remediation &
The $7 million mold remediation project is part of the Judiciary's efforts to address the breakdown of the HVAC system and mold growth in the Guma' Hustisia. WM Engineering Services, LLC from Guam is the primary consultant for the project. In addition, Elizabeth S. Balajadia, P.E. from the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Office provides technical expertise.
(Left to Right) Building Superintendent Gerald E. Weaver, WM Mechanical Engineer Ricky M. Viador, CIP Administrator Elizabeth S. Balajadia, and WM Engineering President William Miller during a mold assessment meeting in January 2018.
youth take-over day
On September 27, 2018, the Judiciary participated in Youth Takeover Day. The day allowed four high school students to experience a day in the life of Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, and Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio.
The Judiciary’s involvement in Youth Takeover Day was coordinated by the Governor’s Youth Affairs Office. Part of Youth Empowerment Month, the event allows high school students to assume the positions of lawmakers, educators, healthcare providers, and other professionals in the community. The event provides students with insight into careers they may be considering, pairing students with mentors from their fields of interest.
The Judiciary planned a busy and varied day for the students stepping into the justices and judges’ roles. For the youth filling in for the Supreme Court, the day included attendance at an oral argument session and panel deliberation, interaction with the justices’ law clerks, introduction to staff’s roles, involvement with numerous committee meetings, and celebration of the students’ experience with a presentation of certificates. Throughout the day, the students learned about the intricacies of the Justices’ positions, gaining an understanding of some difficult decisions the justices are often responsible for. Youth Takeover Day 2018 was a success, garnering over 150 student-participants and inspiring students—including those hosted by the Judiciary—to pursue permanent roles in the community’s professional workforce.
Supreme Court Justices with the Youth Takeover Participants Michelle Bermudes, Jonathan Lee, and Maria Calma.
Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio with Youth Takeover Participant Anna Nunez.
High School Students from across the CNMI paricipating in the Twentieth High School Mock Trial Competition.
On February 15-16, 2018, the Judiciary hosted the 20th annual high school mock trial competition. In the course of the two-day event, the NMI’s participating schools engaged in multiple rounds of competition, demonstrating their understanding of the case, United States v. Lou Perez.
The Commonwealth’s mock trial competition provides students with hands-on experience in presenting arguments and witness testimonies, practicing courtroom procedures, gaining an understanding of the judicial system’s workings, and developing important skills such as leadership, public speaking, and teamwork. The program requires dedication. Over approximately two months, students practice weekly with attorney or teacher coaches, preparing for the CNMI competition, and ultimately, the National High School Mock Trial Championship.
The competition included participants from eight high schools in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Following the release of the mock trial problem, the Judiciary conducted the Fourth Mock Trial Academy, introducing participants to the legal system with lectures on evidentiary rules, witness portrayal, and trial presentation. Following four preliminary rounds, Mount Carmel School garnered the championship. Mount Carmel School claimed the title of the 2018 mock trial champions, going on to represent the CNMI at the national competition in Reno, Nevada.
HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL
FEBRUARY 15-16, 2018
The Professional Development was a successful event attended by court staff from all three islands. The agenda included team building, legal Information versus legal advice, and an art therapy session by Systems of Care therapist Kimberly Mendiola. During the event, court staff were recognized for their contributions and dedication to the Judiciary.
Hyatt Regency Saipan Ballroom
November 20, 2018
Associate Judge Wesley M. Bogdan, Judicial Assistant Vivian S. Dela Cruz, and Deputy Clerk Eva P. Calvo congratulate Law Clerk Dayla Go for passing the CNMI Bar.
Wencai Cai, University of Iowa
Dayla Reschel Swartz Go, University of the Pacific
Chester M. Hinds, University of Hawaii
Steven L. Thompson, Western Michigan University
Tiandouwa Yuan, University of Minnesota
October 10, 2018
CNMI Supreme Court
Presiding Judge Award
1. How long have you been working for the Superior Court Clerk’s Office? 2+ years.
2. What is your background? Education. Work Experience. Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSBM) with 30+ Credit Hours of Graduate Course Level for Masters in Business Administration. 15+ years combined administrative field (4 years supervisory capacity) .
3. What are your responsibilities as a Deputy Clerk III? Assist with the training and supervision of staff (i.e. courtroom procedures, custodianship of records) as well as the day to day operation of the Office of the Clerk of Court. Prepare reports to include compact impact, organizational performance, statistical data, procurement and asset management, and others as required (fiduciary accounts, inventory, etc.).
Ensures courtroom readiness for proceedings (i.e. clerkship duties – calendaring, case management systems, filing, accountability checks, etc.). Monitors office resources necessary to operate efficiently and effectively. Reviews staff performance; implement systematic internal (Clerk of Court Office) procedures to improve accountability.
4. What motivates you? Teamwork.
5. How do you define success? Success is both achievement and failure. When we achieve, we improve, when we fail, we strive to get better.
6. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why? Buddha because I want to get tips on inner peace and enlightenment that may eventually lead to nirvana.
7. What are your hobbies? Going to the beach and car trips around the island.
8. Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career. I would have to say the compilation of the Clerks Handbook.
9. Being a Deputy Clerk III, what three concerns about the Clerk’s Office do you feel should be addressed immediately?
a. Lack of Staff
b. Upgrade case management systems
c. Improve accountability
10. Feel free to add anything. None.
Deputy Clerk III
Drug Court Manager
How long have you been working for Drug Court Division? This June will mark my 3rd year.
What is your background? Education. Work Experience. Prior to joining the Drug Court, I served as the Administrator of the CNMI Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation. As the MCHB Administrator, I led the development of numerous projects aimed at improving the health of mothers and children in the CNMI, including CNMI Women’s Health Month and the Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Networks for Child Safety and Infant Mortality. I also proudly served as an active duty member of the United States Army and a federal civilian employee for the Air Force Center for Environmental Engineering and Naval Facilities in Hawaii. I hold an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education, with a concentration in Rehabilitation and Human Services.
What are your responsibilities as the DCD Manager? This position entails a great deal of multitasking between working on the program's budget and resources, maintaining referrals on potential participants, compiling statistical data and reviewing program evaluation, preparing for Drug Court meetings and hearings, and engaging community support through outreach and education in an effort to enhance services. Other miscellaneous responsibilities include organizing trainings for our CNMI Drug Court multidisciplinary team, and in situations the case workers require time off, I also take on case management services.
What motivates you? I think that passion and commitment to help those who struggle motivates me. I believe that passion in what you do translates to the willingness to work with all stakeholders to achieve positive results. Finally, I always keep my children in mind when helping others. I often wonder if someone will be there to help them if they need that extra support.
How do you define success? Helping others reach a far greater potential.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why? My Mother. I think she would be extremely proud of the work I enjoy doing.
What are your hobbies? In my younger days, I played a lot of sports and enjoyed swimming. Nowadays, I like to read and spend time with my family and friends. I started exercising again so I guess that could be a new hobby?
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career. I consider being a part of implementing the FIRST treatment court in the CNMI as one of the highlights of my career. Getting it off the ground and running for those who need the help today and most especially, for those who will need the help in the years ahead.
Being the DCD Manager, what three concerns about DCD do you feel should be addressed immediately?
Drug courts are new to the CNMI. The missing components to a fully functional and effective system are additional supervision officers and operational funding to support drug court best-practice standards. For instance, Drug Court currently employs only two (2) officers responsible for multiple supervision responsibilities inclusive of daily participant curfew checks, drug testings, check-ins, and crisis interventions.
We need our leaders and community members trained on the concepts of treatment courts. In order for us to reap the benefits of drug courts, the community needs to be well informed on the research and evidence behind treatment courts.
10. Feel free to add anything.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the NMI Judiciary and recognize their resiliency through a tough year. We may have lost our building, but we pulled through and continued providing services to the community.
I also want to thank our Judges, most especially the Chief Justice, for selecting me to receive this year’s Chief Justice Award. I share this aware with those who deserve this as much as I do- the CNMI Drug Court Team and our participants. Your dedication and commitment to this program has made my job a rewarding experience.
Si’ Yu’us Ma’ase’, Olomwaay and Komol Tata.
Chief Justice Award
Figure 1.1 Notice of Appeal
Superior Court Clerk of Court
Figure 1.2 Notice of Appeal
Figure 1.3 Certified Cases
Figure 1.4 Cases Filed by Island (Saipan, Tinian, and Rota
Figure 1.7 Family Court Cases 2014 - 2018
Figure 1.6 Criminal Cases 2014 - 2018
Figure 1.5 Civil Cases 2014 - 2018
Figure 1.11 Family Court Division
Figure 1.12 2014 - 2018 Case FIling Trend
Figure 1.10 Traffic Cases 2014 - 2018
Figure 1.9 Small Claims 2014 - 2018
Figure 1.13 Customer Service Counter
Figure 2.1 Land Documents and Other Filings
Figure 2.2 Maps
commonwealth recorder's office
Figure 2.3 UCC-1 and UCC-2 Filings
Figure 2.4 UCC-3 Filings
P.O. Box 502165 Saipan, MP 96950
Northern Marianas Judiciary