NORTHERN MARIANAS GOVERNOR TENORIO DELAYS CHIEF JUSTICE APPOINTMENT

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By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (November 27, 1998 - Marianas Variety)---Governor Pedro Tenorio disclosed he may delay the nomination of a new CNMI Chief Justice to enable government to save some money during these times of crisis.

"Because of austerity measures, I might delay in nominating the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court," Tenorio told the Variety during signing ceremonies for the Department of Public Safety's 3Ds proclamation.

According to the Governor, a postponement of the announcement would not hamper operations of the high tribunal because the constitution allows the Acting Chief Justice to appoint any judges in any U.S. territory to serve in the panel as pro temp judges.

Justices of the Supreme Court belong to a higher salary level compared to judges of the Superior Court. The current vacancy in the high court bench could mean savings in payroll costs.

Chief Justice Marty W. K. Taylor recently informed the Governor that he is retiring effective next week "after much thought and reflection."

It was not clear yet whether it will be Associate Justice Alexandro Castro or Associate Judge Miguel Demapan who will assume the post as Acting Chief Justice.

Legal experts said that pursuant to a recently ratified constitutional amendment, the most senior Associate Justice will continue in an acting capacity until the Governor appoints and the Senate confirms a full-fledged Chief Justice.

Tenorio said it is a tough decision to select the Chief Justice because there are so many capable people who are willing to help the administration in the judiciary system.

The Governor said six persons are expressing interest to fill Taylor's position, but he has not made a decision yet.

"I have to go again to the Bar Association and try to get some kind of information as to who will assist me in making my decision in nominating the Chief Justice," Tenorio said.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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