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Supreme Court Affirms Zhang's Vandalism Conviction

Updated: Mar 14


Saipan, CNMI – On September 29, 2023, the Supreme Court affirmed the criminal conviction and sentence in Commonwealth v. Shabgua Zhang. The trial court found Zhang guilty of vandalism after he damaged the window of the Ports Police Office at Saipan International Airport with a rock.


In affirming the conviction and sentence, the Supreme Court held that federal law 18 U.S.C. § 37, criminalizing certain violent conduct at international airports, does not prevent 6 CMC § 1805(a), criminalizing vandalism, from being enforced at the airport. It also held that 6 CMC § 1805(a) is a general intent crime, requiring that the trial court find the defendant “intended to act” when he violated the law.


The Court also denied Zhang’s allegations that due process requires non-English speaking defendants to be provided with written translations of trial proceedings and court documents. The Court clarified that due process does not require written translation, except in narrow circumstances to protect other Constitutional rights at trial. Zhang’s access to a court-qualified interpreter satisfied due process concerns. The Supreme Court affirms the conviction and sentence.


This press release has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the public. For further information, contact the Supreme Court at Supreme.Court@NMIJudiciary.gov.

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