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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Judge Rules NMI Ad Litem Fund Trustee Fees ‘Reasonable’
Disappointed by government's disregard for court order

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 21, 2012) – Federal court designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood ruled Monday that the compensation and fees being charged by Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund trustee ad litem Joseph Razzano is reasonable and ordered acting Fund administrator Lillian Pangelinan to pay the ad litem $60,949.83 for services rendered in September and October 2012.

Tydingco-Gatewood also ordered the payment for the services of two other Fund lawyers: $1,960 for Braddock J. Huesman and $17,975.72 for Daniel J. Berman. The federal judge directed that all payments will be made immediately and will be sourced from the Fund's remaining administrative budget from fiscal year 2012.

The Fund will be reimbursed for these payments by the central government, as ordered by the federal court.

The central government objects to the compensation, saying the amount is unreasonable. It wants the court to relieve the government and the Fund of any responsibility to pay these fees.

In a three-page order Monday, Tydingco-Gatewood said the court is extremely disappointed in the government's disregard for the court order directing that it pay the ad litem's fees and expenses. At no time did the government object to the court order appointing the trustee ad litem, along with the provision mandating the government to be responsible for compensation and expenses of the trustee ad litem and of any persons or entities employed or contracted by the trustee ad litem, she said.

"In fact, the government participated in the selection process of the trustee ad litem, having submitted names for this court's consideration. As such, when this court issued the order dated Oct. 17, 2012, directing the government's attorney Reena Patel to contact the trustee ad litem to obtain the necessary account information to effectuate the transfer of funds, the court expected the government to comply with its orders," the order stated.

According to the judge, the government should have asked the court to stay its order or seek an extension of the requirement to pay the fees and expenses, but it failed to do so. She reminded all parties that failure to comply with a court order may subject the offending party to contempt of court.

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