Buckingham Gate: Trial February 10th

January 31, 2014

Ex-CNMI AG Edward Buckingham's case is finally set to go to trial on February 10, 2014.

Over the last month Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo has thrown out four of the twelve charges that were filed against ex-CNMI Attorney General Buckingham.

On January 21, 2014 Judge Govendo dismissed with prejudice two charges of misconduct while in public office at the request of the Office of the Public Auditor's legal counsel George Hasselback. The charges related to the ex-AG's signing of the sole-source CUC power plant contract with Saipan Development, LLC.

The latest 2 charges that were thrown yesterday out relate to Buckingham's evading being served a penal summons. Judge Govendo stated that the penal summons was invalid because it was signed by a clerk of court rather than by a judge.

Buckingham in handcuffs
Related posts:

Trust Buckingham?
CNMI Governor Signs Papers to Extradite Buckingham
Buckingham: three years of scandals
Excuses, excuses
CNMI AG Buckingham Faces Faces Criminal Charges

Investigate Governor Fitial and His DPS Thug Squad
Where in the World Game?
Election Gate Posts


Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me about how ignorant (or smart) this legal system is in the the CNMI.
I would really like to know the story of how a Clerk of Court could/would sign a penal summons.
Also was Hassleback aware of this?

So now the question is are the local mafia that obstructed the serving of the penal summons and the illegal use of the resources that was used accountable.

Maybe a lawyer can respond to that1.

BTW what is happening with the court action against all of the other that have been involved with warrants and pending trials?

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 6:35

Exactly the same questions that I have. If I was charging Buckingham I'd make sure that the penal summons was signed by the correct signatory. Did the clerk of court sign other summons? If so were they ever found invalid? How could this happen? I'm guessing that the cases of the thugs will be tossed out because of a technicality? Or is the judge just being

Anonymous said...

Wendy, this also makes one wonder if the warrant for Fitial was also signed by a clerk with Wiseman's name attached to the document as the issuer.

What is also interesting is that only now this type of action has came to light.

Could this have some serious ramification for all past people that were arrested and brought to trial and convicted. Even the ones that were found not guilty

So now if attorneys go back and find that, say 25% of those in jail now was arrested and tried by a warrant signed by a clerk instead of a Judge, do these people get a new trial? Do they get their case dismissed and ordered compensated by the NMI Govt?
IOne has to wonder just how common this is with warrant having the Judges name on them but actually being signed by the clerk.

I just pulled out an old NMI divorce papers from a certain Judge that has his signature from a rubber stamp on 5 originals.
I checked with my friend and he has the same by another judge with the signature stamped on the originals.
So now the question is if this is common and legal?
What else is going on behind the scenes one has to ask.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 4:05

Excellent points. What is the law? Why would a clerk sign a paper if the law requires a judge's signature? IS there common precedent? What steps are being made to ensure that the letter of the law is followed so that no more cases are screwed up? I wish that the local press would cover this from an investigatory point of view!

Anonymous said...

Wendy it seems, according to a Tribune article this warrant being signed by the clerk of court "is common practice and has been going on for 25 years".
So if this is the case I would assume that by this Judges ruling then all of these past warrants are illegal".
But the question again is 'why only now this has been questioned by this lawyer who has practiced law in the NMI for quite awhile?
What about all of the rest of his (and others) past cases?
But you have to give this lawyer credit to be able to pick this out at this time just before the trial to get this dismissed due to a fact that he obviously knew all this practice of these years was illegal.
Now we shall see if there will be any ramification affecting other past cases. (or not)

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 8:08

The link for anyone interested: http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=153345
There is also a story in the Marianas Variety:

It seems that other judges would have found all the hundreds of other summons signed by the clerk as invalid over 25 years. It appears that Govendo just wanted this thrown out? Something is not right.

Green Cards for All! said...

Invalid clerk-signed summonses would not invalidate subsequent proceedings in a case if no objection were made. The court does have subject-matter jurisdiction over the case, and over the person. By not objecting to defects in a summons, they are deemed waived.

In this case, skilled lawyer Richard W. Pierce (a former federal prosecutor) has made the requisite objection in a timely fashion for his client Edward Taylor Buckingham III. Thus, the issue was preserved, to his benefit.

If, perchance, Judge Govendo got this wrong (which he did not), on appeal after this is all over OPA could get those two counts reinstated and proceed to trial on those two charges.