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Saipan Tribune: NMC hosts first Supreme Court hearing (February 9, 2017)

For the first time ever, the CNMI Supreme Court held a hearing outside the confines of its courtroom.

The Supreme Court held the hearing at the Northern Marianas College yesterday on a divorce case involving marital property.

The appellant in the case, as represented by attorney Janet King, claims the division of marital property and obligations between the appellant and appellee, as represented by attorney Stephen Nutting, is wrongly allocated.

The hearing was the result of an effort by the Judiciary to reach out to the community.

According to CNMI Chief Justice Alexandro Castro, the cases selected for hearing out of the courtroom are dependent on the cases’ availability for oral argument.

In yesterdays’ case, it was “a divorce case that has to do with the distribution of marital property,” said Castro.

King, who represented the appellant in the case, told reporters that the hearing was a good way to open the eyes of NMC students to actual court proceedings.

“I believe that what the Supreme Court and the whole Judiciary is doing and supporting is opening up part of the process that happens when attorneys take a case for their client to court and how it is argued. You could see one segment of how a decision is made, which is the Supreme Court’s decision, probably the most important decision,” said King.

King also believes the purpose of the outreach is to get students interested in pursuing a legal career.

“When they open it up to a forum such as NMC instead of the actual Supreme Courthouse, they allowed more people who would otherwise, for various reasons, not be at the courthouse. I think [the Judiciary] just wants to inspire and support some of the dreams that might be out there, to be a lawyer, to eventually be a judge, and to be part of the process,” she said.

A questions-and-answer portion was held after the hearing, where students asked questions about the judicial system as well as questions directed toward the justices.

Present for the hearing were Justice John A. Manglona, Castro, and Justice Perry B. Inos.

According to Castro, the next court hearing that would be held at a school would be for a criminal case. It will be held at Kagman High School next week.

For more information or if your school is interested in bringing the courtroom to the classroom, contact Ignatia Aldan at 236-9708 or [email protected]

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