The lawyers have had their day in court, and now the CNMI Supreme Court says the Northern Islands will have to elect their mayor, again.
Not that it matters to anyone except the candidates and the employees either would hire. As far as I know an Acting Mayor is still appointed when the Mayor actually leaves Saipan; most of the 'residents' vote here. The office's main function (besides employment) seems to be offering quick marriages.
My main interest in the case stems from Judge David Wiseman ordering disqualified voters to unsecret their ballots. Jaw-dropping, though mitigated by the argument that, after all, they committed fraud by saying they had lived in the Northern Islands at some point. Still, once you've broken the rules once, well, why not lie about your vote too?
The Marianas Variety just printed the press release on this one.
With District Judge Alex Munson off-island, Wiseman was the Designated Judge, ordering that the latest group trying to reach Guam illegally "shall not be removed from the Corrections facility without an order from the court or direction from the U.S. Marshals Service." The Variety mined that nugget, which the Saipan Tribune missed.
This one could easily have turned tragic, from the narrative printed in the Variety. Inexperienced people in rubber rafts, leaving in the dark and with only the vaguest idea of where they were going is a recipe for disaster. It's comic now.
The masseuse that was loose --though under guard -- continues to dominate local headlines. More in the Marianas Variety, which gave the U.S. Attorney's argument to hold a hearing front page coverage Monday with the headline (Gov. Benigno R.) "Fitial’s massage by detainee a personal service".
That's a quote from the motion, which just makes it the opinion of Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O'Malley. I've actually heard a misbegotten soul argue the opposite, though it seems that line of reasoning would have about as much chance as a landlubber putting to sea in a rubber boat.
A day later, the Saipan Tribune offers up the more factual "US govt: Federal court has authority to order evidentiary hearing" on page six. To be fair, maybe the Tribune couldn't get a copy of the Friday motion until Monday. Both stories were old news anyway: from Florida, Wendy Doromal got a copy of the motion and posted a pdf Friday.
In any case, these motions and the evidentiary hearing are just preliminaries. Watch your local newspaper for more.