CNMI Governor Withdraws Superior Court Nomination

admin's picture

Controversial candidate allegedly not fit to be judge

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 10, 2013) – Gov. Eloy S. Inos withdrew yesterday afternoon the administration's nomination of attorney Ramon "Ray" King Quichocho to serve on the CNMI Superior Court as associate judge, ending a month-long controversy that includes allegations of fraud and racketeering against the nominee and low evaluation results from his attorney-peers, among other things.

As a result, today's 10am public hearing on his nomination will no longer proceed.

The public hearing was scheduled last week by Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations chair Sen. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian).

The governor withdrew the May 9 Quichocho nomination through a June 9 letter addressed to Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), who is currently off-island over a death in the family.

Acting Senate president Victor Hocog (R-Rota), when asked for comment, confirmed with Saipan Tribune that at 3:46pm Sunday, he received a letter from the governor about the withdrawal of Quichocho's nomination.

In the letter, Inos said it is "with deep regret" that the administration is withdrawing Quichocho's nomination "at this time."

The governor also apologized for the inconvenience this may have on the Senate.

"There is no reason stated for withdrawing the nomination. I can only guess that the negatives outweighed the positives of nominating him," Hocog told Saipan Tribune.

Quichocho has yet to respond to request for comments on the governor's withdrawal of his nomination as of press time.

While surprised by the nomination's withdrawal, Cruz said the Senate EAGI Committee can no longer proceed with today's public hearing for reason beyond the panel's control.

He said he learned that some individuals from Rota and Tinian flew in to Saipan during the weekend, only to testify in today's public hearing on Quichocho's nomination.

Cruz said this is only a public hearing, and not a confirmation hearing, and the committee was supposed to hear the public's sentiment-whether they are in support or oppose the nomination.

"It is part of the EAGI due process to listen to our people's concern. In the past, nominees get confirmed without (being) given the good people of the CNMI a chance to be heard. I always believe the people should always be given the opportunity to be heard," Cruz told Saipan Tribune.

On May 9, then acting governor Jude U. Hofschneider submitted Quichocho's nomination as associate judge to the Senate. That day, Inos was in Guam to meet with a key U.S. Navy admiral.

Quichocho's appointment, which requires the Senate's advice and consent, immediately drew mixed reactions that could make or break Quichocho's confirmation at the Senate.

Within days, the CNMI Bar Association gave a failing grade on Quichocho's suitability for the associate judge job. The number of those that participated in the survey was only 20 percent of the Bar Association's membership.

Moreover, shortly after the nomination, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo determined that Quichocho had induced a landowner to violate public policy by filing false documents with the Commonwealth Recorder's Office. Govendo said Quichocho's conduct of inducing landowner Joaquin Q. Atalig to breach a land lease agreement was improper.

Days later, an expert witness retained in a racketeering lawsuit against Quichocho stated that Quichocho took unfair and unethical advantage of a client "by sexually victimizing her while she was on depression medication, thwarting her recovery, in an act of moral turpitude, and violative of the American Bar Association's Disciplinary Rules."

But there were also others from the CNMI and Guam that have come out to support Quichocho's nomination, saying he would be a good judge.

Quichocho was counsel for a taxpayers' lawsuit against a sole-source, 25-year $190.8-million diesel power purchase agreement that became one of the bases for two impeachment resolutions against former governor Benigno R. Fitial.

He was also among the few practicing attorneys that openly supported Fitial's impeachment.

Quichocho's nomination as associate judge has so far proved to be the most controversial nomination that the Inos administration has made since assuming office in February, after Fitial stepped down days before his impeachment trial was to begin at the Senate.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment