Massage-Gate: Hearing rescheduled

January 15, 2010

CNMI Attorney General Buckingham filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands today requesting that the evidentiary hearing be rescheduled. He stated that "the Commonwealth requires additional time to review the basis of the evidentiary hearing and to file appropriate pleadings with this Honorable Court on behalf of one or more of the individuals scheduled to appear, pursuant to subpoena, at the evidentiary hearing."

US Attorney Eric O'Malley did not oppose the motion.

Judge Alex Munson issued an order rescheduling the hearing for February 17, 2010 at 8:30.


Anonymous said...

Judge Munson should give the Guv a going away present...ONE YEAR BEHIND BARS WITH NO RUBDOWNS!



Anonymous said...

The word is that Fitial did this so the girl, his co-conspiritor could walk, as he knows no one will do anything to him here and the girl will walk from the Governors actions.

The scuttlebug is that he did this on purpose to let locals, filipinos, and Chinese know that he is still the boss here, erveyone, including the cops do everything he says.

It is a scare tactic that can work. His supporters are claiming that the feds will not do anything to him, as he is above the law here.

Humanitarian said...

Did the USAO cite any legal authority whatsoever for this “evidentiary hearing”?!! Or is it a High Tech Lynching, Part II?

The defendant was in DoC custody, as ordered by the district court, the entire time.

If the feds don't like how the CNMI administers custody of pre-trial detainees, they can build their own facility. But the ad hoc subpoenas of non-parties to testify in a criminal case about detention “issues” is without precedent in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Anonymous said...

I hope the "feds" read what Humanitarian (not) writes so they get a sense of how the guv and his supporters think.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I've had a couple days to digest and think about this. I don't think there was a massage. The administration's reaction is too screwy. I think she has something on the governor and he pulled her out to "make a deal" and shut her up. She should be moved to Guam immediately for her own protection. She isn't safe in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Humanitarian's language speaks volumes. He is an attorney defending a governor's act of taking a prisoner from her cell to meet his personal needs. Chilling.

It's a good thing the evidentiary hearing was rescheduled. It will give CNN and the big news networks time to send crews over here.

Saipan Writer said...

It's likely the CNMI will file a motion to quash the subpoena. That's what will be filed by the first motion deadline.

And yeah, they might make an argument like "Humanitarian's" (not). They might also argue that the Governor isn't needed for the hearing into the issues raised by the feds (which I think is whether the defendant has been compromised or something like that).

Fitial and his lawyers are down-playing this, trying to stay cool, trying to act as if everyone who thinks this is outrageous is over-reacting. I think they may have even convinced themselves of this position.

They'll continue to rely on the governor's physical limitations and pain; his "need" for "therapy" and the "special skills" of this woman, and her prior "treatment" of the governor.

And that she's back in detention now and hey-no harm done?

The Governor's conduct was outrageous. He deserves the publicity and scorn that is coming his way.

But who knows what will happen over time.

It will be a black day if the Governor skates out of this.

But we've seen black days already.

captain said...

So I guess the question is, how much will the Feds tolerate with this big "clown"
There may be other things that this Gov is under investigation for that the Feds do not want to jeopardize at this moment though.
But when is is enough is enough?
How come there has not been anybody defending this ignorant "clown' in any posts as there were many that were "gloating" after the election?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what his supporters are thinking & feeling right now. Reap what you planted.! Feels good to post the cliche "I told you so!".

Anonymous said...

The federal government should offer amnesty and a green card to the lady so she could talk. Some say she knows a lot that could bring fitial down.

Anonymous said...

Fitialization: You asked for it; you got it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of clowns, just wait and see the list of morons that Fitial's braintrust transition team has assembled to take over all the politically appointed department head positions. Just unbelievable. Gossip in various government divisions say many resignations of the rank and file and technical people have been submitted. Seems anyone with any last shred of credibilty is moving on. This next half decade will be known as the "Dark Ages" for the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

The governor claims that he had no idea that she had been arrested and did not know why and never once asked why or talked about it. He claims he simply asked that she be released and brought to his mansion at 3 am.

This is not true but even if you buy it, are you kidding me? So he released a prisoner that for all he knows could have been in jail for Murder and had her brought to his house and put around his family? Risked her flight and the community's safety?

If you believe it was for a massage, I have oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

This masseuse would have been long gone if she made it to Guam. So why use the "shes the only one that can rub me the right way" story?!

No one is buying these lies.

Munson gave you one month to try and spin, twist, contort, mold, and bastardize the truth to get you a reduced sentence.

There is no way you can wash yourself clean of this!

Anonymous said...

Why is the ATTORNEY GENERAL defending the Governor? Shouldn't our #1 law enforcement government attorney be interested in investigating/prosecuting him too? Isn't he the people's attorney too? Shouldn't he at least appoint a Special Prosecutor?

Why are my taxpayer dollars going to defend this crook? Fitial personally violated ethical and legal procedures and totally abused his power -- he should pay for his own damn attorney!

The Attorney General did not defend Tim. Why is he defending Ben?

Anonymous said...

The AG is representing the Governor because he has not violated any single law and, more importantly, has not been charged with doing so.

The people of the CNMI have an interest in the local control of DoC.

If the feds don't want us to house their detainees, they don't have to assign them there. Fortunately for the Commonwealth, Attorney General Buckingham is a corrections law expert.

Anonymous said...

Picked up by AOL News!

Anonymous said...

Don't you love how one minute he's the island strongman, ruthlessly calling for heads to roll at the DEA, and then when he's literally caught with his pants down, it's "show some compassion for his terrible suffering"?

Sorry Ben. We see how well you dish it out. How well can you take it?

Anonymous said...

Why IS the AG defending the governor? Let him get his OWN attorney and pay for him. Let the volunteer and Willie defend him! Watch us get another Jenner and Block bill!

Anonymous said...

The subpoenas are issued to government employees, for conduct while Defendant Qingmei Cheng was in DoC custody, so they are entitled to government lawyers.

This is not the same as where a criminal case is filed against a person who happens to be a government employee -- no CNMI-paid defense lawyer is provided there (unless poor in Commonwealth courts, or unless the alleged federal violation was ordered by CNMI officials as part of formal duties, and the CNMI government contests criminal liability).

These exceptions would not apply to Fitial, and the latter is exceedingly rare -- but there has been no criminal case brought against Fitial.

Anonymous said...

If Buckingham doesn't prosecute him too, then he is a wimp and puppet.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. Why is Fitial entitled to a government attorney? Was springing someone out of jail an OFFICIAL act?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Qingmei Cheng was never released, but was in DoC custody the entire time she attended to the emergency alternative medicine needs of the Governor, a prior patient. The OAG regularly represents government employees who are subpoenaed for actions taken as government officials (which would include the temporary transfer of a prisoner). The OAG does not do criminal defense. No violations of any specific criminal statutes have been alleged, no charges filed, nor even identified by any blog commenter, such as 6 CMC ___; 18 USC ____.

The upcoming evidentiary hearing is based on 28 USC 1651.

Anonymous said...


Ms. Cheng should not have been removed from the jail unless ordered to be taken out of the jail by the judge. Are you now saying she was practicing medicine without am license? She is not a licensed medical practitioner! The governor had no authority to release her. He admitted that he requested her release. No criminal charges have been filed YET.

BOTW said...

noni 12:05 - i am just a layman so please help me out here. my basis is all from law & order tv series.

she was in jail and so therefore any and all other movement of this prisoner should be according to the provisions of her sentence and all applicable procedures as enumerated in detention policies, such as transferring her as you mentioned. but it was not a transfer, she was borrowed from her cell! without proper documentation from court, is this not kidnapping?

BOTW said...

the gov knew where she was. in jail. surely the gov knew she is there for a reason and don't give me that spin that he did not know what she was charged with. he called the jailhouse, hello!

or he thought she was just there servicing another patient and so she called her there. c'mon....

Anonymous said...

She is a detainee, not a convict, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Her court-appointed counsel is the very able and skilled attorney Jed Horey, who often posts to these blogs under a familiar six-letter nickname -- but undoubtedly not about this case.

The defendant was remanded to the custody of DoC, and remained in that status throughout her temporary transfer to minister to the Governor's emergency alternative medicine needs, so there was no violation of any court pre-trial order.

I see this being resolved one of two ways. DoC could agree with the USMS not to allow such similar temporary transfers in the future, creating as it does a possible appearance of impropriety.

If DoC doesn't so agree, the USMS and DHS could buy the remaining leasehold from a former garment factory or other large, strong building, and make their own incarceration facility on-island. That will take time, however, so the former makes more sense.

I suspect that the current MOU between the USMS and DoC does not address such exigent circumstances because they arise so infrequently -- most parts of the country have better health care options and are not so dependent on alternative medicine.

This is a tempest in a teapot, with flames being fanned by those with a political axe to grind. Cliched? (!)

Anonymous said...

Noni 12:05pm:

The governor and Dolores both admitted wrong. The governor blamed the wrong on Dolores and she said it was wrong and under the same circumstances would not let the prison out again. It is in their darn statements to the press.

I hope you are not an attorney. They have already admitted an error was committed the only question now is, "how massive and far reaching was their wrongdoing?"

Did he use a federal detainee for personal services like he states? THIS IS ILLEGAL.

Did he as a CNMI official speak with a federal detainee, who had already lawyered up, without her lawyer present and without contacting him? THIS TOO IS ILLEGAL

Did he threaten the federal detainee because he is very close with the prisoner and has known her for years and is somehow associated with her criminal behaviors? ILLEGAL

Did he ask her for privileged information regarding the human trafficking bust. (i.e. "Who caught you? What did he look like? What was the undercover officers name? How many ICE officers were there? What were their sex, ages and nationalities? How did he contact you? What have you told them?") ILLEGAL

You claim the detainee was still in custody. That can be argued and will. You can not disclaim any of the illegal scenarios above (including the one the Governor Admitted to). So why again is the AG representing him in this illegal matter.

FITIAL'S FACTS: He admitted he wrongly ordered the release of a federal detainee to be brought to his residence to massage his body. The story has been corroborated by Dolores.

NONI 12:05PM, what facts are you looking at?

Anonymous said...

The point is, there are no facts, or very few. Certainly not to support all the accusations on these blogs. Fitial has admitted to “wrongfully” doing nothing.

Perhaps those claiming something is “illegal” could point out what specific statute has been violated?

I thought so.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:47

What a comment! How's this response? I don't know the statute that says you can't rob a bank, but I sure know it's against the law. I don't know the statute that says you can't assault people, but I know it's against the law. I don't know the statute that says you can't murder people, but I know it's against the law. And I know that if a Court orders that a prisoner is put behind bars without bail, then no person, not even a governor, can order that the prisoner be taken out of jail and brought to his house for any reason.

You think it's okay that the governor requested the release of a prisoner? How about if I called a jail and said my back hurt? Could I get a prisoner out of jail.? Never! Only the most pompous, unethical, arrogant person would even make such a request! And the people that followed through, may they pay the consequences.