THE Superior Court on Tuesday denied the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s motion for leave to file a reply response, saying it would instead take judicial notice of a statement made by then-Chief Executive of Imperial Pacific Ray Yumul International, during a meeting with the commissioners of the casino on December 18. , 2021.
A counter-response is defined as “an additional response to a request filed after the request has already been fully informed”.
At issue is the following statement made by Yumul:
“Covid-19 has hit the CNMI with its worst financial crisis in over a decade. International travel is shut down. Most of our major hotels are now closed…. All indicators of a broken tourism industry [are] clearly seen all around [.] And IPI is not immune to the economic difficulties facing the CNMI. The IPI had to close its doors to comply with the Honorable Ralph [Deleon Guerrero Torres’s] Executive Decree [which] extended to 2020. And at that time, IPI’s revenue fell to zero.
Chaired by Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, the Casino Commission filed an instant motion on January 6, 2022 in response to Yumul’s argument in support of judicial review.
According to the casino commission, Yumul’s statement “is inappropriate evidence that should not be used to determine whether [IPI] the applicant, took responsibility for establishing the elements of the affirmative exception of force majeure.
For its part, IPI said the court should dismiss the instant motion as an improper effort by the casino commission to have the “final say” in this case involving the suspension of IPI’s exclusive casino license.
Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan, in his order, said: “There is no absolute right to file a counter-response and the courts generally treat motions for leave to file a counter-response with ‘disfavour’.”
He said the court retained jurisdiction to consider arguments raised for the first time in a response “if justice and fairness require their consideration”.
However, he added, the “standard for granting leave to file a reply response is whether the party making the motion would not be able to challenge the issues presented to the court for the first time in the response. of the opposing party”.
The judge said Yumul’s statement and the issues raised by the Casino Commission “do not, in the opinion of this court, rise to the level necessary to exercise its discretion to allow a further response in this matter as As such, and after reviewing the parties’ briefs and with a clear understanding of their asserted positions, this tribunal declines to resolve the intricacies of the argument as to whether the petitioner wrongly raised a new issue in its brief in response, or, instead, simply responded to the arguments raised by the Casino Commission in its opposition.
The judge added, “The court’s resources are better utilized to continue its review of the voluminous record contained in this motion for judicial review. of the designated record and other exhibits containing the transcript of the February 14, 2021 casino commission hearing at which the statement – and others related to Covid-19 – were made, this court will take note of office of the existence of Mr. Yumul’s statement.
However, the judge added, “this court declines to take note of the accuracy of the factual assertions contained in the statement at issue – except that the CNMI, like so many others around the world, has been heavily impacted economically and otherwise by the Covid-19 outbreak and the CNMI government has issued various executive orders in response and to protect public health and safety.