NMI House Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations Immune from a lawsuit

CNMI Official Seal (PNC file photo)

In Regional News – a CNMI Judge have found the NMI House Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations Immune from a lawsuit set forth by CNMI Governor Ralph Torres.

PNC’s Don Sulat has the report on this story.

According to a statement by the CNMI House of Representatives – “Legislative Investigation Power is Broad and Indispensable.”

In a ruling set yesterday – Judge Pro Tempore Timothy Bellas has ruled in favor of the NMI House of Rep. In the lawsuit set by Governor Ralph Torres.

Judge Bellas – according to the NMI House of Reps – stated that the Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operation is immune from Governor Torres’s lawsuit. And reaffirmed that the governor is not immune to the Committee’s subpoena authority.

Governor Torres asserted the following causes of action for the lawsuit :

A declaration that the subpoena filed against the Governor Violates Commonwealth Statute.

A declaration that enforcement of the subpoena would infringe upon the testimonial immunity conferred by the Commonwealth Constitution;

· A declaration that the subpoena lacks a valid legislative purpose and therefore violates the Commonwealth Constitution

· A declaration that the subpoena usurps responsibilities constitutionally delegated to other executive offices and therefore violates the Commonwealth Constitution

However, according to Judge Bellas, Governor Torres and his legal team “failed to provide any detail regarding the subject matters covered by the subpoena or how they allegedly implicate information protected by executive privilege.”

Moreover, Judge Bellas also ruled that a plaintiff, in this case is Governor Torres, “should not be able to file a bare-bones complaint devoid of factual allegations and subsequently benefit from arguing that any relevant documents submitted by the defendant in support of a motion to dismiss is extrinsic evidence of factual disputes more appropriately reserved for a later stage of the litigation.”

To conclude in the approval of dismissal, JGO Chair – Celine Babuta said that “this ruling confirms our knowledge that nobody is above the law, not even Governor Torres.”

Reporting for PNC News
I’m Don Sulat.


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Born and raised on the island of Saipan, Don moved to Guam in the Spring of 2016 to pursue higher education at the University of Guam. It was at UOG that Don discovered his passion for keeping his peers politically informed. Prior to joining PNC Don gained professional and life experience through a variety of odd jobs ranging from an administrative assistant to a bouncer to a luxury retail salesman. In his free time, you can find him flying his drone or doing landscape and portrait photography. Don joined the PNC News Team not only to broaden his writing skill but also to challenge himself to get in front of the camera, ultimately furthering his passion to promote an informed and politically engaged Mariånas. Don's beat is Court, Crime, and Regional and is also PNC's Lead Reporter.