August 3, 2011
In a three-page order the Court refused an extension to file a response brief and order to show cause. The Court also requested that the AG and Chief Prosecutor Michael Ernest attend a hearing today to show cause why the AG should not be sanctioned for requesting to file a late brief in an appeals case. It was reported that the AG knew of the schedule and a brief from the OAG was due on or before July 15.
In recent weeks several cases have had to be dismissed because of lack of preparation of the OAG.
The case in question involves Simon Sebuu who appealed a conviction for theft and criminal mischief.
The Supreme Court order noted the case of CHC vs Owens in which the OAG also failed to file a timely brief in its remarks quoted by the Marianas Variety:
In an order denying the AGO’s request, the Supreme Court said: “The court is mindful that [slip opinion on June 8, 2011 for Commonwealth v. Owens, 2001 MP6] was issued before the [the AGO] moved to file a late brief in this case. We state plainly that the court would have denied the [AGO’s] motion to file a late brief regardless of Owens, given the gravity of the [AGO’s] failure to timely fine in this instance.”
Moreover, the Supreme Court said it “recognizes the danger inherent in merely barring the [AGO] from filing a brief in cases where there is no cross-appeal. Specifically, this rewards the [AGO’s] failure to file a brief by relieving the [AGO] of burden to file a brief. To stave off this undesirable outcome, the court deems further action necessary in the form of an order to show cause.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the AGO’s motion to file a late brief is “highly disfavored” pursuant to CNMI Supreme Court Rule 31-1(b), “and the facts surrounding the [AGO’s] failure to file cannot overcome this standard.”
The Supreme Court noted that Sebuu timely filed his opening brief on April 11, 2011, and Buckingham “received service of all documents” in this case commencing with the court’s briefing schedule issued on July 23, 2010.
Is Buckingham too busy with his own scandals and legal problems (Election-Gate and Contract-gate) to be able to properly handle the pressing duties of an attorney general? That appears to be the case.
Meanwhile the governor's press secretary, Angel Demapan, attempted to justify the violation of ethical and procurement laws in granting former Secretary of Commerce Michael Ada the controversial ARRA contract. Demapan echoed AG Buckingham's line that the "benefits to the CNMI outweighed following the law."