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Last updateThu, 17 Jan 2019 12am







    Wednesday, January 16, 2019-4:43:05P.M.






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AG: No need for bill to regulate practice of law in NMI

ATTORNEY General Edward Manibusan said there is no need to revamp the current language of the law which, he added, is sufficient to prosecute and punish those who engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

Edward Manibusan

In his legal opinion, the AG said House Bill 20-162’s attempted overhaul of the current law’s Section 3115 (a) and (b) “blurs the lines between what is the practice of law and what is not the practice of law and puts potential clients and the general public at risk of relying on the legal advice of someone who is not licensed to practice law.”

The bill, which was introduced by House Vice Speaker Janet Maratita, “impermissibly encroaches on the authority of the judicial branch through the chief justice to regulate admission to and governance of lawyers in the Commonwealth,” Manibusan said.

“There are other portions of the bill which also invade the sole jurisdiction of the federal government in determining who can represent the federal government in federal court. The current language of 6 CMC Section 3115 (a) and (b) is sufficient to prosecute and punish those who engage in the unauthorized practice of law,” the AG’s opinion states.

The bill was discussed by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations during a meeting on Thursday.

The committee, which is headed by Rep. Ivan Blanco, decided to “table” the bill after reading the AG’s opinion.

Blanco said they also tabled Senate Bill 20-91 which  amends specific statutory provisions in Title 9 of the Commonwealth Code concerning non-payable traffic offenses. Introduced by Sen. Frank Cruz, the bill has an income-generating provision and must be introduced in the House and not in the Senate, Blanco said.

But his committee recommended the passage of Senate Bill 20-92 which is to amend 2 CMC Section 2123 relative to the terms of the Commonwealth Ports Authority board members to comply with Article III, Section 21 of the CNMI Constitution. The bill was introduced by Sen. Justo Quitugua. (For more information, go to

Besides Blanco, the other committee members who attended the meeting on Thursday were Rep. Joe Itibus, Rep. Frank Aguon, Rep. BJ Attao and House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez. Reps. John Paul Sablan and Edwin Aldan were absent.