CNMI OAG: Another to Resign?

April 3, 2010

All of the articles about Attorney General Edward Buckingham and the CNMI Office of the Attorney General concentrate on the Criminal Division. There are said to be five remaining attorneys in the division: Chief Prosecutor Rosemond Santos, Jennifer Dockter, Brian Gallagher, Michael Evangelista, and William Downer. Buckingham said a new prosecutor, Shelli Neal, will be joining the division.
The Saipan Tribune reports that another attorney, Michael Evangelista will be retiring next week to move to private practice. The article stated:
The source said one of the reasons for Evangelista quitting the OAG's Criminal Division may also be the controversy over the government's handling of Vicente T. Aldan's case.

Saipan Tribune learned from a staff at the OAG's Criminal Division that Evangelista has been on leave since Monday and that he is expected back on Monday, April 5.

Evangelista, a resident of Tanapag, joined the OAG's Criminal Division after passing the NMI Bar examination in 2007.
The aren't any job vacancy announcements that I saw except an old one dated 10-20-2008 on posting for attorneys on the Governor's Web site dated 10/20/2008, which was advertising for a Prosecuting Attorney, 2 Civil Litigation Attorneys and an Immigration Attorney.

The Office of the Attorney General was termed "a toxic place" by an unidentified source who also said that "Buckingham was difficult to work for" and there was "too much politics at the OAG."

Is it only "toxic" in the Criminal Division? How many attorneys are there in the Civil Division? The CNMI Bar Association lists the following attorneys: Alan Barak, Timothy Connor, Kathryn Fuller, Elchonon Golob, Meagan Hassel-Shearer, Braddock Huesman, David Lochabay, Tom Schweiger, and James Stump. (I am not sure if this is accurate since they also listed Michael Meyer, Mike Nisperos, and Joseph Taijeron as working fo the CNMI OAG, but they have reportedly resigned.) Additionally, Howard Willens who is "special" counsel to the governor claimed in court documents to be employed by the OAG, but is listed on the CNMI Bar Association site as being in private practice.


Captain said...

If my memory is correct, I think it was during a controversy involving Baka and his "tenor".

One former lawyer from the NMI, AG office, who had left and went to Guam. (I believe he was with the Guam AG office then.)
Wrote a letter to the editor about his frustrations and experiences at the AG office, among other things, he stated that "they were told" how to write and what to say in their opinions and "briefs" concerning legal matters etc. (forgot exactly what the wording was)
He mentioned other things and that that place was politically run for the Gov's benefit. In other words they where told how to prosecute (or not) cases etc. Not what was "legal" but what was required of them. This was the reason for his leaving.
Now in Bingham's case it sure looks like he cannot talk at this time because he will be going to another Govt agency.
BUT it leave little to the imagination about what has happened there concerning the Aldon case in Wisemans' court..

I am curious if,possibly, any (or all) of these past/present allegations are true,if it breaks any Fed laws.
I am sure that there is much more things happening that have not come to light yet.
It sure seems from past and present that "funny things" are happening there.
The question is also "is any of the NMI Judges involved" in any connections with these past/present cases as the sentences for certain people do leave a lot to the imagination as it defies reasoning, especially when you look at the last names, the repeated offenses,convictions, multiple times of parole violation and also the "connected" relatives of many of the convicted.
This whole situation with the AG office, Judges and the Gov. reminds me of some past movies over the years involving small Southern Towns or Foreign countries with dictators.
This other person that may be leaving for private practice may or may not have reason other than he has gotten a couple of years experience and wants to take other opportunities for more money. (or not)

Anonymous said...

Your refusal to post the article from the Tribune regarding the
Federal EEOC investigation against the AG and Hutton from 2005 tells us one thing Wendy: Unless a Filipina has been abused you really don't care.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:34

1. You take an entire copyrighted article as a comment
2. The case was dismissed with prejudice years ago
3. It is not related to this discussion
4. It is my blog
5. You are anonymous
6. If you have a vendetta, get some class and sign your name
7. Your last comment is totally untrue and plain garbage

Anonymous said...

Michael L. Ernest joined the OAG in June 2009; since AG Buckingham took over in August 2009, Eileen Wisor, Gilbert J. Birnbrich, and Wayne A. Hazlip have joined the Civil Division.

Timothy M. Connor moved from the OAG to CUC in February 2009, and passed away last week. Alan J. Barak left the OAG in July 2009 and now lives in Washington, DC, still doing outside work on some CUC matters.

Each attorney is responsible for reporting address changes to the CNMI Bar Association for updating its website; as you note, some have not done so.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the clarification anonymous 6:34.

Anonymous said...

Captain: Baka is a baritone.

The comments by former CNMI and now Guam AAG Deborah Covington were not referring to Acting AG Gregory Baka's tenure, but those of his predecessors, Attorneys General Matthew T. Gregory and Pamela S. Brown.

Yet ultimately, under our constitution the decision on a close legal question submitted to the OAG has to be made by the AG. The Assistant AGs don't have to sign off on it if they don't agree, but they should still do the work.

Differences of professional opinion are not normally cause for resignation unless egregious.

Anonymous said...

So, saying the attorney did the work (and requested answer requested by Attorney General Matt Gregory was given despite contrary to law) and referred it to a the Deputy for signature (despite the knowing the answer was leagally incorrect and thus for ethics reasons would not sign off), would you still maintain that person's contract should not be renewed? I did not resign. I believe in ethics, which were violated in asking what I was asked to do. We are suppoesed to maintain ethics regardless of who signs off on something.

Anonymous said...

Renewal at the conclusion of a contract is not a “right”. However, from 2006 prior to the swearing-in of the Honorable Edward T. Buckingham III on 17 August 2009 thanks to the indispensable efforts of Tina Sablan, reasonable assistance was provided to the maximum extent possible to OAG attorneys who were moving on involuntarily due to non-renewal, in the form of continued employment while trying to find a job elsewhere.

There was never a single instance between January 2006 and August 2009 where an AAG was not renewed because of refusal to do something he or she deemed unethical or even because of bona fide disagreement over interpretation of the law.

At government and private law offices, such professional disagreements are common, and attorneys cannot be required to subscribe to opinions or views they consider to be incorrect.

This is a fairly common occurrence, especially in areas where the law is unsettled, or novel positions are being asserted. Experienced attorneys have been on both sides of that situation as have I -- refusing to sign things on occasion, and taking over (perhaps amending slightly) documents another lawyer was unwilling to sign.

I know Deborah Covington to be a well-trained tax lawyer who by all accounts is doing well on Guam. Each of us perceives things based on one's own frame of reference.