CNMI Attorney General Buckingham Announces Resignation

admin's picture

‘Family matters’ cited as AG steps down

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 2, 2012) –Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham is stepping down from his post in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for family reasons, and he said he's leaving knowing that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has accomplished a lot in the last three years amid controversies involving other agencies, contracts and politics.

Buckingham's planned last day of work is this Friday, Aug. 3.

He will be taking his 30-day annual leave, with the approval of the governor, whom he had been talking with for months regarding his planned resignation. He said he and the governor kept the resignation secret until the last minute to ensure that the OAG continues to function properly.

Buckingham's nomination as AG was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 14, 2009. But prior to that, he was already with the OAG's Civil and Criminal divisions for three years each.

Press secretary Angel Demapan separately said Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has yet to make a decision on who will take charge of the OAG in the interim.

"Governor Fitial understands that the AG's decision was based on personal family matters. Nonetheless, the governor is very much grateful for the services of Mr. Buckingham to the Commonwealth both as an assistant attorney general and as attorney general. The administration wishes him well as he embarks on a new chapter in his life," Demapan said.

Buckingham, in an interview at his office yesterday, said he could keep doing his job but he also needs to spend time with Pam, his wife of 37 years.

"I could keep doing this as long as I keep doing it but what my wife reminded me is, we are husband and wife. And she's probably not going to like me saying this on the record but I'm going to. We average, and she started timing me, we tend to average about 18 minutes a day of time, because I'm spending my days and nights working. That's what comes with this job. So the job is incredibly intense. And part of what I want to do as long as I'm doing this job is do it to the best of my ability. But I also perhaps selfishly, I want some time with my wife. So that's my answer to your question," Buckingham said.

He and his wife Pam have been married 37 years. His wife used to work at Northern Marianas College. They have a 34-year-old son, a medical doctor.

"I'm happily married, been happily married, and I'm going to stay happily married," he said.

They will be going back to the mainland, first to San Francisco, California.

He said he's leaving with two different feelings.

"I think I leave with a sense of gratitude for how much we have accomplished. But I think we've accomplished a lot in the last three years so for that I'm very pleased with what we've done. The heavy heart is, I truly care for the office, I care for the people in the office, and I care for the Commonwealth and I've done my best," he said.

He said he's not claiming what he's done with OAG has been perfect, "but I've certainly done my best for the three years I've done this. It's been a privilege to serve the office, and serve the people."

Among the accomplishments he cited are: the reestablishment of the AG's Cup, improvement in criminal case management, dramatic strengthening of the victims' services, and managed the transition of immigration employees to new roles and positions when the Division of Immigration was shut down.

The OAG was also able to stand its ground when he said the Office of the Public Auditor tried to encroach into the OAG's prosecution function.

"We got significant support from the governor and as a result of that, we have the staff and resources to operate the OAG to do our job," he said.

Right before the government shut down in October 2010 over the absence of a budget, OAG issued an opinion where it said there will be no back pay for legislators and they won't have any access to any money until a budget is passed.

"I do believe that helped contribute tot the shortness of the government shutdown," he said, adding that they've also created legal assistance and prosecution teams that have made OAG stronger.

He also talked about performance-based organizational culture "where we're holding people accountable for work." He said OAG stopped the International Consulting Services deal with the hospital.

Buckingham said OAG successfully challenged at least in part the excessive legal fees in the Retirement Fund case. They have also established the Roger B. Igisomar AGO Employee of the Year Award in honor and respect for Roger Igisomar, formerly of the OAG.

Prior to coming to the CNMI, Buckingham worked in Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Buckingham has a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, one of the top-ranked schools in the United States, where he graduated with honors. He earned his law degree from the University of Denver. He is admitted to practice law in Colorado, the CNMI, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment