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Supreme Court Holds Appellate Session at Kotten Tinian

Updated: Feb 7


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on January 19 at Kotten Tinian and visited students at Tinian Jr. Sr. High School and Tinian Elementary School to launch the 35th anniversary of the Commonwealth Judiciary. In May 2024, the Judiciary will commemorate the Commonwealth Judicial Reorganization Act of 1989, which established the Supreme Court and Superior Court.


At Kotten Tinian, the Supreme Court held appellate arguments in two cases.


In Estate of Rogolifoi v. Estate of Rogolifoi, the estates of two siblings argue the appeal of a quiet title action over land determined to belong to the estate of only one sibling in 1953 and a resulting $2.97 million land taking compensation. The Estate of Rita appealed the Superior Court decision that found Rita held the land as the Carolinian customary trustee for her entire family. The court stated that any heirs of Rita’s brother Silvestre would not have had notice in 1953 that Rita’s daughter was not acting as their trustee. Rita’s Estate argues that the Superior Court relied on inaccurate testimony, made unreasonable factual findings, and did not properly consider whether the Estate of Silvestre’s claim was time-barred.


In Commonwealth v. Onopey, the Commonwealth appeals Superior Court’s dismissal of a criminal case with prejudice. Tim Onopey was charged with one count of Sexual Assault in the First Degree. The Commonwealth moved to dismiss the charge without prejudice. Onopey objected to the dismissal without prejudice, and requested dismissal with prejudice, which the Superior Court granted. The Commonwealth argued that the Superior Court abused its discretion.





In the afternoon, the Supreme Court held two Justices in the Classroom events, at Tinian Elementary School and Tinian Jr. Sr. High School. Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Justice Perry B. Inos, and law clerk Nathan Ford met with high school students. They discussed opportunities for the students to get involved with Judiciary-led activities and answered questions about court procedure.


“The students were excited for the visit and it sparked a few students’ interest in Judiciary Programs,” said Lizabeth Perzinski, Principal of Tinian Jr. Sr. High School. “It was very special for them to be included in this visit, and to have the opportunity to participate in Moot Court and Mock Trial during the next school year. Because of the justices’ visit, I was able to recruit a teacher to be the advisor for these programs.” 


Justice John A. Mangloña, along with law clerks Patrick Quimby and Paige Lehman, and Marshal Bradley Lizama spoke with students at Tinian Elementary. Justice Mangloña and staff answered the students’ questions about the branches of government and the role of judges and justices in deciding cases.


To celebrate this milestone year, the Judiciary will be organizing a series of monthly events commemorating its achievements and progress. For updates on future 35th anniversary programming, visit www.NMIJudiciary.gov.

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