Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Handicap Ramp Completed

The Marianas Office has finally, finally gotten a handicap ramp for our clients. We are in a government building, but the government would not pay for or install the ramp at their expense.  We tried to get the other offices that are in our same complex to contribute--the criminal division of the Office of the Attorney General and the Public Defender's Office. Although they were cooperative with meetings and expressed interest and desire in our attempt to get a handicap ramp that could be used by all of our offices, when it came to the bottom line of paying, they said no.

So we paid all of it ourselves. The bids from various contractors were obtained by NMPASI for us, who coordinated the entire project at the request of a mutual client.

Part of the project also included breaking down at the back by the Office of the Attorney General's premises a very steep, short and dangerous ramp that had been added and sometimes used with detrimental effect.

And here are photos of the final paint touches being added to the railing of the new ramp about November 24, 2012.

On December 4, 2012, MLSC had its first client who used the ramp!  R.A. came in to see his attorney, Linda Wingenbach, and gained access to our premises through the handicap ramp.

Friday, October 19, 2012


The Marianas Office of Micronesian Legal Services Corporation has scheduled parole renewal workshops for those non-citizens who already have parole-in-place, but whose status may be ending soon.

There will be two back-to-back sessions at the American Memorial Park auditorium.

SUNDAY, October 28 1 PM
SUNDAY, October 28 3 PM

Each workshop will be conducted in English. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please do not bring children. 

The purpose of workshop is to review the process and information needed to successfully renew  parole status.  Individual legal advice will not be given.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

501(c)(3) Status!

Micronesian Legal Services Corporation has always had public charity status under the CNMI tax code.  It has finally filed for and received IRS 501(c)(3) status. 

Thus donations to MLSC are eligible for tax deduction purposes pursuant to federal law (which means up to 50%).

Our EIN is 98-6018560.
Mail to MLSC, P.O. Box 500269, Saipan, MP 96950.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Round Win

The Marianas Office recently won reinstatement to employment for one of its clients. Reported here .

A Farewell and A Welcome

Our long-time MLSC Board Member representing the CNMI has resigned.  Lucia Blanco-Maratita submitted her resignation from the MLSC Board of Directors by letter dated September 4, 2012.  She wrote:

It has been a pleasure serving and working with such honorable gentlemen on the Board for the past ten years. I know that this Board truly has its clients' best interests at heart and takes their responsibilities to both clients and staff very seriously.  I have no doubt it will continue to always remain focused on them. I will definitely miss the camaraderie and collegiate respect that my fellow members have given to me and to each other.
MLSC will miss Lucy, who has been such a great friend to all of MLSC, but especially to the Marianas Office.

MLSC took the opportunity of a recent CNMI Bar Association meeting to present Lucy with a plaque of appreciation.  Jane Mack, Directing Attorney of the Marianas Office, presented the plaque of appreciation resolved by the MLSC Board. MLSC's Acting Executive Director Ben Weber and Marianas Office staff attorneys Dimitri Varmazis and Linda Wingenbach also joined in the presentation.

Ben Weber, Lucia Blanco-Maratita, Lillian Ada Tenorio, Linda Wingenbach (partially hidden), Jane Mack and Dimitri Varmazis.
CNMI Bar Association President Sean Frink named Lillian Ada Tenorio as Lucy's successor. Lillian will represent the CNMI on the MLSC Board of Directors.  MLSC thanked her for accepting the position and welcomed her to her new duties.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

MLSC Completes Back-To-School Project SY 2012-2013

The Marianas Office of Micronesian Legal Services Corporation once again conducted its annual Back-To-School Project. Office staff donated money and new school supplies and organized a drive among other legal providers in their annual effort to give needy kids a chance to start school with the items they need to succeed. “We believe that kids will be more enthusiastic about learning if they have the tools they need,” said Jane Mack, the Directing Attorney at the Marianas Office.

Some of the book bags with supplies, ready for distribution.

More backpack, ready to go.
  Many other attorneys and members of the legal community share the desire to help children prepare for their educational experience. “An education is vitally important in being successful in the future,” attorney William Satterberg said. This year, in addition to MLSC staff, donations were given by Richard W. Pierce, William Satterberg, Rexford Kosack, Loren Sutton, Braddock Huesman, Thomas Clifford, Marsha Schultz, Kathryn Delafield, Eileen Escudero, Heather Kennedy, Vicente Salas, Adam Hardwicke, Jennifer Dockter and Suzanne Steffey.

Supplies include a binder, filler paper, folder, notebook, composition book, pencil case with pens, pencils, erasers, sharpener, and then age appropriate add-ons like crayons and rulers.

We included a bottle of water and hand-sanitizer with nearly all bags distributed this year.
 As a result of the generous support, MLSC distributed 76 backpacks with a wide range of supplies in them, and 8 small kits of basic school items. Children were selected as recipients from MLSC client families, referrals by Karidat and other community organizations, and self-referrals (phone inquiries). The donated supplies will help at least some students be prepared as they return to the classroom for SY 12-13.

MLSC paralegal Maria Muna hands out a book bag with supplies to a happy first-grader.

Students showing off their new backpacks.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Open for Domestic Intake

Late notice, but...
The Marianas Office is open for domestic intake this week (September 10-17). Call for an appointment (670) 234-6243 or come in Monday through Thursday.  (Friday by appointment only).

"Domestic" includes cases involving divorce, child support, guardianship, adoption, etc.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

NITA Training

Micronesian Legal Services Corporation is hosting training by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) in its offices throughout Micronesia.  MLSC offices in Majuro (Marshall Islands), Kosrae, Chuuk, and Pohnpei (FSM) and the Marianas  (CNMI/US) each had one or more days of trial advocacy practice in intensive workshops during the past two weeks. The MLSC offices in Yap and Palau will have this training in the coming week.

JoAnne Roake and Michael Roake

The NITA trainers were Michael and JoAnne Roake, who live in New Mexico. Mike is the Director of NITA's Pacific Region Trial and Deposition programs, and JoAnne has been a faculty member with NITA for many years.  Both are energized. Each share many practical tips. Each provide both group and individualized comments.

Lunchtime lecture (Deb Fisher, Mike White, the Roakes, Dimitri Varmazis and others in attendance)

Mike Roake, captivating the audience (including Jennifer Dockter, Brad Huesman, Loren Sutton and Dick Pierce)

The training was top-notch and intensive, on topics that included depositions, direct examination, cross-examination and ethics, among other things. Participants each had time practicing skills on deposition, direct and cross-examination in a mock trial scenario with a case problem that had been provided ahead of time.

Talking about Direct Examination
(Niva Bennett, Maria Muna, Lucia Blanco-Maratita, Ben Weber, Teresa Kim, Nancy Gotfried, the Roakes, and others)

JoAnne Roake, providing insight to Nancy Gottfried
 MLSC staff who participated in the training included Marianas Office attorneys Jane Mack and Dimitri Varmazis, Central Office Acting Director Ben Weber, and MLSC Board of Directors member Lucia Blanco-Maratita. Ben Weber has participated in the training in the other sessions throughout Micronesia, so acted as a witness in the Saipan training, along with MLSC paralegal Frank Rogopes, MLSC summer law intern Siniva Bennett, and volunteer attorney Jennifer Dockter. Paralegal Maria Muna attended all day, and paralegal Polly Anne Sablan and secretary Lolita Nazaire joined for the set-up, registration and introductory remarks.  Secretary Juanita Sablan manned the Marianas office while we were all busy with NITA.

Ben Weber takes the heat as a mock witness from attorney Nancy Gottfried, while JoAnne Roake provides guidance.

Frank Rogopes enjoys his time on the witness stand.

The training was specifically arranged for the benefit of MLSC staff, but because it is generally applicable and useful in all areas by trial practitioners, each office has opened its training to other participants, In the CNMI, a limited number of attorneys were invited to attend.  The Bar Association CLE coordinator, Deb Fisher, promoted the program here and there was more interest than available slots for attendance, so she held a raffle. The lucky 13 who attended the program at minimal cost (to cover a light lunch) were David G. Banes,  Charles E. Brasington, Deborah E. Fisher, Nancy Gottfried, Braddock J. Huesman, Teresa K. Kim, James B. McAllister,  Brien Sers Nicholas, Richard W. Pierce, Loren A. Sutton, Christopher M. Timmons, Colin M. Thompson, and Michael A. White.

Everyone is interested. (Christopher Timmons, Jennifer Dockter,  Loren Sutton (partially hidden), Brad Huesman, Dick Pierce, Frank Rogopes (standing),  David Banes, Niva Bennet (foreground),  Mike White, Colin Thompson (standing))
Practice in the courtroom. (Dick Pierce at podium, Mike White, Jennifer Dockter, Charles Brasington)
While most of the other MLSC offices received 3 days of training, the NITA training in Saipan was crammed into a very long and focused one-day session.  There were few breaks, usually just 5 to 10 minutes, and even lunch included a seminar lecture. 

Lucy and Nancy enjoy a few minutes break outside in the warm air.
The NITA training was made possible by a Department of Interior grant, about which MLSC was notified by Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan. MLSC applied for the DOI grant and, according to Ben Weber, it was "an amazingly effecient process" after the application was submitted.  The training has been so successful that we look forward to more opportunities for such grant-funded learning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

CNMI Bar Association Collaboration

Photo courtesy of Al Hicking.
 L-R back: Sean Frink, Dimitri Varmazis, Linda Wingenbach, Polly Anne Sablan,
Frank Rogopes; L-R front: Suzanne Steffey, Jane Mack, Lolita Nazaire, Juanette Sablan

Thanks to the CNMI Bar Association!  Each year its members pay dues, of which a part is contributed to MLSC. This is the Bar Membership's way of supporting our pro bono work on behalf of indigent people in our community.  We appreciate it!

(reported in the Saipan Tribune here  and in Marianas Variety here).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Open for Family Cases

The Marianas Office of Micronesian Legal Services Corp. is open this week (May 7 through May 10, 20120) for intakes for applications in family cases (including divorce, child support, custody, guardianship, adoption, name change, etc.) . Those who wish to seek MLSC help may come into the Marianas Office any time from 8 AM to noon, 1 PM to 4:30 PM Monday through Thursday. 

Applicants for help should be prepared to identify all members of their household, show income and assets for each household member, and provide any relevant documentation related to the request for legal help.

For more information, telephone the Marianas Office at (670) 234-6243.