Saipan, CNMI – On November 2, 2023, the Supreme Court denied the estate administrator’s motion to dismiss the appeal by one of the heirs in the Estate of Concepcion Faisao Tudela. In the probate proceedings, the lower court denied Ivan Rufo-Faisao Tudela’s challenge to Herman Sablan’s appointment as administrator. Tudela appealed, and Sablan moved to dismiss, claiming the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the decision denying the challenge was not final or appealable under any of the exceptions in 8 CMC § 2206. Sablan asked for sanctions alleging the appeal was frivolous.
The Court agreed that the order was not final but stated that under 8 CMC § 2206, an appeal may be taken from an order granting or revoking letters testamentary or of administration, including from an order refusing to make any order mentioned in Section 2206. By denying Tudela’s objections, the lower court refused to revoke Sablan’s appointment, which made the order appealable under Section 2206.
The Court found that the appeal borders on frivolous, but is not wholly frivolous, because Tudela raised one justiciable question–whether Sablan should have been appointed administrator–and deficiencies in the opening brief and various other motions at this early stage in the briefing schedule can be corrected by diligent research and genuine argument. The Court declined to sanction Tudela, allowing him to legally and factually support his arguments
The Supreme Court’s full order is available at https://cnmilaw.org/pdf/supreme/2023-MP-11.pdf.
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.