PALAU COURT TOSSES IMPEACHMENT ACTION

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, May 22) — Palau Supreme Court Associate Justice Larry Miller ordered a void of the resolution of the members of the Peleliu Legislature impeaching Gov. Jackson Ngiraingas.

"The resolution before the court, on which the purported removal of the plaintiff (Ngiraingas) does not comport with the Peleliu Constitution and accordingly must be declared void," said the 10-page decision which came out last week.

On March 23, 2006, 10 members of the Peleliu Legislature adopted a resolution impeaching Ngiraingas and that if they are not satisfied with the governor’s explanation of the grounds for his impeachment, he will be removed from office.

Ngiraingas then filed a civil suit voiding the resolution, arguing that the way in which the resolution was adopted violated his due process rights and that the allegations against him do not amount to treason.

Ngiraingas in his lawsuit said he was not given notice or an opportunity to be heard at the March 23 special session at which the resolution was adopted.

The defendants argument, however, is that due process was satisfied because Ngiraingas had the opportunity to respond to the allegations made in the resolution that was considered or voted upon.

"In the Court’s view, however, the difficulty with the defendant’s argument is not that the April 7 session never took place, but that there was never any subsequent session session between March 23 when the resolution was adopted and April 8 when its own terms, it was deemed to have effected plaintiff’s removal from office," the decision said.

The decision said that Ngiraingas was not given any proper opportunity to be heard and was denied due process.

The court said the definition of treason, which was the basis of the legislature to remove Ngiraingas, may be used to mean a betrayal of trust if it is not "other serious crime" and not a sufficient definition as it is used in the Peleliu Constitution.

May 22, 2006

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