Office of Attorney General

April 4, 2010

It was interesting to read the Saipan Tribune and see that they quoted this blog again. This time it was concerning my opinion of PL 17-1, the soon to be challenged law.

The article stated that AG Buckingham said he "respects the opinion of human rights advocate Wendy Doromal who described the alien registration law, or Public Law 17-1, as “discriminatory, demeaning, and outrageous.” From the article:
In an interview with Saipan Tribune, Buckingham said he testified in support of the administration-proposed omnibus immigration bill that Gov. Benigno Fitial recently signed into Public Law 17-1.

“I recommended to the governor that he sign it. I respect that others may have a different opinion and I am grateful to live in a country where we can respectfully disagree,” the AG said.

In her recent blog, Doromal said P.L. 17-1 appears to be the CNMI government's blatant attempt to maintain its “broken local system and control over the disenfranchised underclass.”
The rest of the article quotes Unheard No More! posts. (Reporters are also free to email or call me with questions: contact information is in the left sidebar.)

I expect a lawsuit to be filed regarding this unjust law.

Climate of Fear
NMC was described as having a climate of fear a few months ago, but now it is the Office of the Attorney General that has been so labeled. The Marianas Variety reported that AG Edward Buckingham ordered that two locks be changed on former Kevin Lynch's office, the office of the chief prosecutor. That act initiated the "climate of fear" according to the article.

The Variety states that the Governor, Buckingham and Rosemond Santos, the new chief prosecutor have not responded to questions. Actually, I don't think Santos has commented on anything since gun-gate was exposed.

From the article:
At the AGO, nobody wants to talk on matters that are contrary to what Buckingham wants, the source said.
“People are just afraid to talk,” the source added.

Other sources said the morale at the AGO is “low,” and the remaining prosecutors feel “weary” with their situation.
Seven attorneys leaving the OAG in less than a year is a lot. I thought the OAG was primarily charged with serving the public. If this is the case, how did the office become so political? It appears that Buckingham serves the wishes of the governor.


Anonymous said...

Most businesses with valuable or sensitive material routinely change locks or access media whenever an employee departs. This is certainly so in the federal government. Also check out the federal (keys changed with every new law clerk) and local courts on Saipan. In the OAG Civil Division there is a cypher lock on the front door by the receptionist with a code that is regularly changed. It has been there since at least the early 1990s.

It is somewhat surprising that an apparently disgruntled former AAG with obviously little experience concerning normal workplace security practices would speculate that a routine key-change inculcated a “climate of fear” among educated professionals.

During my years of interacting with OAG lawyers I knew no one who was not hard-working and dedicated, despite the tremendous shortage of resources.

The current level of turn-over is consistent with that over the past two decades. Ask any bar member, or simply start a list of former OAG lawyers. (The CNMI Bar Association is not an instrumentality of the CNMI Government and thus not subject to the Open Government Act.) How far back does OPM keep records?

The major problem at the OAG, for attorneys with more than five years experience, is the low pay. This encourages a high turn-over.

Local politicians seem to like it that way. Also local bar members who make big bucks suing the CNMI government.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks "big bucks" can be made suing the CNMI Government should try getting it to pay a judgment some time.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers are patient. They get paid in the end. Not to mention those who manage to get paid in land -- admittedly not against the CNMI, though.

But the fact remains that the private bar has been far from supportive of the need for an institutionally independent and strong OAG.