This is how he’ll get away with it





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There are a few ways CNMI senators aligned with Gov. Ralph Torres will exonerate him from removal from office. Make no mistake, though; he will remain in office until the voters have their say. The passage of the impeachment rules, and how the votes split between Torres supporters and the non-Torres minority in the Senate tells the tale.

Actually, it tells a few tales, or scenarios, if you will.

Let’s establish some impeachment jargon before we move forward. According to the impeachment rules, there will be a special committee to which Senate President Jude Hofschneider may refer matters for disposition outside a trial setting. That committee will have a chairman. The de facto chairman to this point has been and is expected to continue to be Tinian Sen. Karl King-Nabors. Mr. Nabors is longtime Torres crony Kimberlyn King Hynds’s brother, and a vehement defender of the Torres regime.

The CNMI House of Representatives ‘impeached’ the governor in January. An impeachment is the political version of a criminal indictment, where a Grand Jury formally charges a defendant with crimes. In this case, there are six political charges handed down by the House to the so-called jury in this matter – the Senate. The nomenclature for these charges is ‘articles.’ The Senate – the nine-member jury in this case – will convict or acquit the governor on each of six articles of impeachment. If at least six of these nine senators vote to convict the governor on any one of the six articles, the governor will be removed from office.

Vote counting to fagaga the voters

Knowing six votes are needed to convict the governor on any of the six articles, and understanding that three, possibly four, senators may vote to convict the governor on all articles, the five remaining senators may have leeway to take turns voting to convict knowing not enough votes will collect to remove the governor on each article.

For instance, if Senators Edith Deleon Guerrero, Paul Manglona, Justo Quitugua, and Teresita Santos vote to convict the governor on every article, then at least two of the remaining five senators will be needed to convict on any of the six articles. Sen. Vinnie Sablan is Mr. Torres’s gubernatorial running mate, and is expected to vote to acquit the governor on all charges. However, three of the four remaining senators face reelection this year, and thus, the wrath of voters who believe their senators should vote to convict the governor and remove him from office. Mr. King-Nabors does not face reelection until 2024.

Those three senators can caucus and decide to each vote for one of the articles of impeachment so that each vote tally reaches a vote of five for conviction, or just one vote short of removal from office. This would allow each of those three senators – Victor Hocog, Francisco Cruz, and Mr. Hofschneider – to tell their voters they in fact attempted to remove the governor from office, but alas, not enough senators agreed with them.

Here are the other possible ways Ralph Torres will be exonerated (notice I don’t use the word ‘acquitted,’ as in some instances, that would not be entirely accurate) based on the stacked rules the Senate passed Thursday:

The King-Nabors committee may move to dismiss all articles

Part II allows a form of pre-trial conference that can result in the dismissal of all articles against the governor without any prosecution or trial happening at all.

Rule 3(b) states, “Before the Articles of Impeachment are presented to the Senate, the Senate President may refer the Articles of Impeachment to a special committee for a preliminary determination on the threshold questions of whether the Articles of Impeachment as presented constitute treason, commission of a felony, corruption, or neglect of duty; and/or satisfy all required elements of a crime, if a crime is alleged. A referral under this Rule must be approved by a majority vote of the Senate. If the Committee determines that the House Impeachment Record is insufficient to sustain all or part of the Articles of Impeachment, it shall submit a report to the entire Senate regarding its conclusions on the portions of the Articles of Impeachment deemed to be deficient or insufficient based on the House Impeachment Record, as supplemented. The entire Senate may then vote to adopt the Committee Report. If the majority of the Senate votes to adopt the Committee Report, then the Articles of Impeachment deemed to be deficient or insufficient shall be dismissed with prejudice.”

It is possible Mr. King-Nabors’s committee may submit a report to the full Senate declaring all six articles of impeachment as not meeting the so-called constitutional threshold. How they arrive at that conclusion will be subjective; these rules do not define the threshold. If five senators vote to accept the committee report, then all six articles will be dismissed with prejudice. That means the governor will be exonerated of every crime, where he flew first class illegally, stole from the CNMI taxpayers, abused his authority, and ignored a legitimate subpoena. It also means those charges can never be brought before the Senate again.

Dismissal by pro-Torres prosecutor

Let’s say the King-Nabors special committee dismisses only half of the articles of impeachment. The pro-Torres Senate has other options at its disposal under the rules to keep Torres in office.

Rule 7 dictates who may serve as impeachment prosecutor, and prevents the House from being represented by a qualified attorney of its choice. The rule states the impeachment prosecutor will be the House speaker. If the speaker, Edmund Villagomez, declines to serve, then the impeachment committee chairman – Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao – must serve as prosecutor. Neither are lawyers. If Mr. Attao declines, “then the Senate President shall select a House member to serve as Impeachment Prosecutor.”

Under this scenario, Mr. Hofschneider may simply choose one of the five pro-Torres House members, who voted against his impeachment: Reps. Angel Demapan, Leepan Guerrero, Roy Ada, Joseph Flores, or Patrick San Nicolas.

Before any trial ever happens, one of these members may simply abide by the consistency of their vote in the House and move to dismiss all articles of impeachment against the governor with prejudice. That will kill the impeachment.

Acquittal by technicality

Pro-Torres senators can Pontius Pilate-wash-their-hands of the whole matter if the House Clerk does not submit the full House Impeachment Record to the Senate by close of business two Wednesdays from now. According to Rule 8, the House has 14 days from the passage of the rules to provide the full record, paginated, indexed, and fully transcribed to the Senate. That includes a nearly-impossible full transcription of the hundreds of hours of witness testimony during the impeachment proceedings.

“If the House Impeachment Record is not transmitted to the Senate Clerk within the applicable time frame as extended, then the Senate shall consider the impeachment matter without an impeachment record and the Impeachment Prosecutor shall not be allowed to appear or participate in the Senate proceedings and the Senate hearing in any matter whatsoever. The Articles of Impeachment shall be presented to the Senate for final verdict and judgment in accordance with Rule 26.” – Rule 8(d)

This provision of the rules means there will be a vote without evidence or trial on each of the articles of impeachment if the House Impeachment Record is not completed and submitted in two weeks time. Without evidence, in accordance with Rule 5’s standard of proof of ‘clear and convincing evidence’ and there being no evidence upon which to base a decision, senators would be bound to vote ‘no’ on every article of impeachment.

The governor may strike the evidence against him

Let’s say the King-Nabors committee allows some of the articles to proceed to trial, Mr. Villagomez or Mr. Attao agree to prosecute the case, and the House manages the nearly impossible feat of submitting the full and fully transcribed impeachment record within the 14 days. A trial then will be scheduled and commenced..

Prior to the calling of any witnesses, the governor will have the opportunity to get rid of the most damning evidence against him, depriving senators of the so-called ‘clear and convincing’ evidence against him. Rule 16 states the governor may object to the admission of any evidence against him, and that the Presiding Hearing Officer will single-handedly rule on the motion. The Presiding Hearing Officer will be either Mr. Hofschneider, or a senator he selects to be such powerful officer.

Without the relevant evidence to make an article of impeachment meet the threshold of having clear and convincing evidence to convict, the senators will be forced to vote to acquit the governor.

Acquittal after unfair trial

While the governor will be allowed to be represented by as many high-powered attorneys as he pleases, the House will be forced to prosecute the case without a single lawyer. Its prosecutor – Villagomez, Attao, or any other member of the House – will have no trial experience.

“All motions, objections, requests, or other matters pertaining to procedure, to the Articles of Impeachment, or to the impeachment hearing, including questions with respect to the admissibility of evidence, made orally or in writing by a party shall be addressed to, and decided by, the Presiding Hearing Officer,” Rule 23 states.

Without the proper legal training, the House prosecutor will not stand a chance at pleading his or her case by motion, objection, or other procedural pleading. The governor’s lawyers, however, always will have the upper hand in this regard. In this way, the pro-Torres senators will be able to make a mockery of the House and tell voters the House was unable to make its case with enough evidence for a proper conviction.

We are kidding ourselves if we hold out any hope this pro-Torres Senate will convict Ralph Torres of any of the articles of impeachment. This matter has been decided before it began. All these three senators facing reelection are doing is creating an environment, where they will be able to justify their votes to exonerate their friend, the governor, from wrongdoing.


  • Frank Agulto

      03/05/2022 at 8:07 PM

    IF this “impeachment regulations” voted and sanctioned by the “standing” remaining Senators of the Mariana Island Senate House of the Mariana Island Legislature, and it is “praying” of the consistency principle of ruling and order of action, it is clear by now that what “consistency” in action by “law making” rules is that “only Jesu’kris’to” is right of being “self-consistency” and not parallel and greater than a “human specie”. All this run of “ruling” is not “consistency” as drafted in the “written” memorandum. Now, only what is defined by “Jesu’kris’to” could be the real and honest “self-consistency” for the “humanity” of the Mariana Island to live in “truthful” consistency. This is a “lay” person interpretation, and that is in interest of being “consistent”.

  • Albert Sablan Palacios

      03/07/2022 at 11:27 AM

    Hang loose! and some more! Money/Corruption is evil!! Dignity and Integrity are richer!!!!!

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