Former Palau President Appeals Emergency Declaration Ruling

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Toribiong State of Emergency after power plant fire unconstitutional

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Sept. 19, 2014) – The State of Emergency (SOE) legal fight is not yet over as former President Johnson Toribiong has appealed the Supreme Court ruling the declared unconstitutional SOE proclamation he made in the aftermath of the catastrophic fire that destroyed the Aimeliik Power Plant in 2011.

On August 12, 2014, Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong handed down an 11-page partial judgment on the case which says that the SOE declaration is illegal.

Aside from the August 12 ruling, the former President is also appealing the August 2, 2012 Decision and Order Denying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and the June 3, 2014 Order denying appellant Johnson Toribiong’s motion to recuse the court.

Kevin Kirk, the former President’s lawyer, filed the Notice of Appeal and Request for Audio-Recording before the Supreme Court on September 12, 2014.

"The appellant Johnson Toribiong herein, by and through the undersigned counsel and pursuant to ROP R. App. P. Rule 4(a), hereby appeals the following orders issued by the Trial Division of the Republic of Palau Supreme Court, Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong presiding: The August 2, 2012 Decision and Order Denying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the June 3, 2014 Order denying appellant Johnson Toribiong’s motion to recuse the court, and the August 12, 2014 Order denying Mr. Toribiong’s second motion to dismiss," the first part of the Notice reads.

"Pursuant to ROP R. App. P. Rule 10(b), the appellant hereby designates the whole of the testimony and evidence adduced before the Trial Court and requests that the audio recording of the August 2, 2012 hearing conducted by Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong in the above matter be prepared and served upon the appellant through the undersigned counsel," the Notice further reads.

Former Senator Alan Seid, two years ago, originally filed the lawsuit challenging the former President’s SOE declaration.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on April 5, 2012. After a hearing, the Court ruled that the declaration of the State of Emergency is unconstitutional.

On April 1, 2014, CJ Ngiraklsong handed down a decision declaring unconstitutional the State of Emergency declaration. The April 1 judgment was entered in response to a stipulation between Plaintiff Alan Said and the Republic. On March 31, 2014, the Court also handed down an Order dismissing Toribiong as a defendant in the case

After Toribiong filed a Motion to Intervene and asked the Court to reconsider its April 1 decision, the Chief Justice reversed himself on June 26, 2014 and vacated the April 1 and March 31 judgments. CJ Ngiraklsong admitted error and agreed with the former President’s argument that the stipulated judgment is void because he was never consulted regarding the stipulation, did not agree to it, and hotly contests it.

The June 26 ruling brought the case to square one and pitted Seid against Toribiong in his personal capacity and President Remengesau in his official capacity. The case was re-argued and the Chief Justice, to the surprise of some observers, re-affirmed his previous rulings declaring unconstitutional the SOE declaration.

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