CNMI Legal Notes

June 28, 2010

Each week it seems there is another sexual assault reported on Saipan, and still there is no published sexual offender registry. The fault appears to lie with the Office of the Attorney General. The DPS website announced in July 2008 and that a sex offender registry would be forthcoming.

According to the Marianas Variety, the website requires the approval of the OAG, which has not responded:
“The department is still actively registering sex offenders and is still actively monitoring and registering prior sex offenders that must come in to DPS to register every three months,” DPS spokesman PO2 Eric David said in an e-mail to the Variety.

“However, our website is not ready to go without the approval of the Attorney General’s Office,” David added.
The sex offenders registry officer-in-charge, PO2 Jason Tarkong, submitted a final draft of standard operating procedure to the AG’s office for review sometime last year, said David.

But the department “has not received any feedback from their office,” he added referring to the AGO.

Tarkong made “several attempts this year to follow up with his request but to no avail,” David said.

Tarkong was told that his submission was still being reviewed by the AGO, David added.

Asked for comment, Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham said in an e-mail on Friday: “You are asking a number of questions going back to 2009. I will review your questions and respond as soon as practicable.”
Can an office get any more incompetent?

More Parole Questions
Who revokes parole if a criminal violates it? Does the Office of the Attorney General inform the court or file new charges?  It seems that parole is a conditional release dependent upon a criminal's good behavior.  I thought if a criminal violated parole he/she was returned to prison to serve the remainder of the sentence.  It is unclear how this system works in the CNMI.

Kidnap-rapist Jose Olopai Rabauliman was released from prison early and then violated his parole.  According to the Marianas Variety the violent criminal's sentencing went like this:
In March 2006, Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja granted in part Rabauliman’s motion for a reduction of sentence.

In his order, Naraja modified Rabauliman’s sentence to

• 10 years imprisonment with five years suspended for rape;

• 10 years imprisonment with five years suspended for oral copulation;

• 10 years imprisonment with two and a half years suspended on each conviction of kidnapping, or a total of 20 years, with five years suspended;

• One year imprisonment for assault and battery, all suspended.

Rabauliman’s total sentence was 41 years imprisonment, all suspended, except for 25 years, Naraja stated in his March 2, 2006 order.

Then-Superior Court Presiding Judge Edward Manibusan sentenced Rabauliman and another individual to 30 years imprisonment for kidnapping and raping two Chinese guest workers in 1998.

Manibusan originally sentenced Rabauliman for the kidnapping offense to 10 years imprisonment for each two counts of kidnapping to run consecutively. But this was modified by Naraja who suspended two and a half years for each count.
A hearing was to be held last week to determine whether or not to revoke his parole according to the Marianas Variety. However, Rabauliman was "uncomfortable" having AG Buckingham, the parole board's counsel present since Buckingham was one of the prosecutors in the case against Rabauliman. Apparently a criminal can dictate the conditions of a parole hearing.

The Variety reported that the rapist violated parole by being involved in a domestic violence incident, but I could find no press release concerning the arrest. The Variety article did not reveal the details of the domestic violence incident, but if Rabauliman violated parole by committing a crime of domestic violence then he is a dangerous criminal, and should stay in prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Juvenile Justice
Several weeks ago Tyron Farley Reyes Fitial, a guard at the Kagman Juvenile Detention Center was arrested for sexually assaulting a female child who was imprisoned at the center.  More recently it has been revealed that the center has violated the law by not providing educational sessions for juvenile offenders from September 2009 to February 2010 after the teacher left the position.

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs wants to take over the responsibility of educating the juveniles from the Public School System that is currently tasked with the duty.  DCCA Secretary Melvin Faisao stated that since a new instructor was hired, the juveniles only receive four hours of instruction per day instead of the required six hours. From the Saipan Tribune:
The detention facility has three classrooms that could accommodate nine students each. In an average day, seven to nine juveniles could attend educational sessions.

Saipan Tribune learned that in previous years, DCCA allowed detained youths to receive their educational service in a regular classroom setting by joining students in public schools like Chacha Oceanview Junior High School and Kagman High School.

However, because of the serious risk and danger to the safety of all students-both regular and detained juveniles-the practice was stopped.

This same practice was also the main reason agency receives serious citations from both the local and federal governments.

“Since then, we're very serious in providing this important service to the detained youths not in the classrooms of public schools but in the facility where special classrooms were built for the purpose. This is why we want to make sure that they will continue to receive these services,” Faisao said.
The CNMI received a FY 2009 Recovery Act Justice Assistance Grant for $1,640,925 so money should not be a factor in hiring a qualified instructor to meet the requirements of the law.  From the DOJ website:
The main goal of the Northern Mariana Islands' (CNMI) FY 2009 Recovery Act Justice Assistance Grant Program is to provide full support to law enforcement and criminal justice state agencies through the creation of forty-five (45) new Full-Time Employee (FTE) positions... CNMI will employ available JAG funds to continue to support and implement law enforcement and criminal justice agencies with the highest priority placed on the following purpose areas: 1) Preserve and create jobs and to promote economic recovery and 2) To stabilize the local government budgets in order to minimize and avoid a decline in the delivery of essential services or an increase in local taxes. CNMI is committed to report measurable results in all criminal justice system components, including: multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, crime prevention programs, law enforcement programs, domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment and justice information sharing initiatives.


Anonymous said...

Buckingham wasn't even in the CNMI when Rabauliman and his codefendants were prosecuted in the late '90s. The prosecutor was James Benedetto.

Anonymous said...

Rabauliman was "uncomfortable" having AG Buckingham, the parole board's counsel present since Buckingham was one of the prosecutors in the case against Rabauliman. Apparently a criminal can dictate the conditions of a parole hearing.

Contrary to the Marianas Variety story, Buckingham did not prosecute Rabauliman in 1998. Bucky did not even arrive in the CNMI until 2003 or 2004.

Anonymous said...

It will be months, if not a full year, before the sex offenders registry is on-line. There has been alot of pressure to at least address the issue, but with shortages of manpower in that department it will not be a priority. If you notice the AG does not say it is important. He just said he would look at it. I don't really think they think it is important, and in all fairness they do probably have more important work. Prosecuting actual criminals is very important. My problem is they seem to have these monthly "therapy sessions" to discuss what they are going to discuss in the next meeting about the program. They need a specific timeline with workloads and dates. The old saying seems to be firmly in place with this project: When you fail to plan you plan to fail.

Anonymous said...

naraja is a joke

Captain said...

BTW, Naraja, which happens to be a friend, has his family blood lines to Phil.(and is proud of it)
I do not agree with many (most) of his "rulings" or sentences, BUT it is not anything that I or anybody can do to "interfere" with a sitting judge. Just remember when the retention vote is due on these people.
A Judge is also not allowed to discuss any case or sentencing with us "lay" persons.
For you people that are afraid if these CW ever get a green card and/or will get into any of the "local" or elected Govt. Maybe you should be afraid that they might "mirror" what is going on now??? Could that be worse??? Or maybe??????

Anonymous said...

here is one question which is out there: how did Rabauliman manage to even get a modification of his sentence? Who was his lawyer? Who was the Prosecutor? Why did the AGO not object or even appeal this sort of ruling?

wait, was it because the Rabauliman family are clan with BenTan? so no one announced to the community that a rapist murderer was released/parole to our community, unlike David Diaz?

ed buckingham is handling parole? well isn't that dandy. Rabauliman should have been VERY comfortable because uncle ben had it covered... you know, a little warning, a little more of a sentence... and then OUT.