FSM SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Nett Dist. Govt v. Micronesian Longline Fishing Corp.
10 FSM Intrm. 520 ( Pon. 2002)
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 520]
 
NETT DISTRICT GOVERNMENT,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
MICRONESIAN LONGLINE FISHING CORP., INC.,
Defendant.
 
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2000-040
 
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND SCHEDULING ORDER
 
Andon L. Amaraich
Chief Justice
 
Hearing and Decided: February 20, 2002
 
Memorandum Entered: February 27, 2002
 
APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiff:                         Edwel J. Santos, trial counselor
                                                    P.O. Box 642
                                                    Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
 
For the Defendant:                   Craig D. Reffner, Esq.
                                                   Law Office of Fredrick L. Ramp
                                                   P.O. Box 1480
                                                   Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941

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HEADNOTES
 
Attorney, Trial Counselor and Client ) Admission to Practice; Jurisdiction ) Removal
     The FSM Supreme Court Admission Rules apply to all cases properly before the national courts, regardless of where the case originated. There is no exception to these rules, express or implied, for legal representatives whose cases are removed to the national court from a state court. Nett Dist. Gov't v. Micronesian Longline Fishing Corp., 10 FSM Intrm. 520, 521-22 (Pon. 2002).
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 521]
 
Attorney, Trial Counselor and Client ) Admission to Practice;
     When trial counselors seek to appear in the FSM Supreme Court without supervision, the court will, in addition to any relevant criteria specified in Rule IV.A., consider the availability to the trial counselor of an attorney for consultation; the client's wishes and whether the trial counselor had prior professional association with the client; the litigation's complexity and the importance of the issues to the FSM; the trial counselor's previously demonstrated competence and other factors indicating whether granting the motion would be in the interests of justice. Nett Dist. Gov't v. Micronesian Longline Fishing Corp., 10 FSM Intrm. 520, 522 (Pon. 2002).
 
Attorney, Trial Counselor and Client ) Admission to Practice
     When the issues involved in the litigation are complex, and are important to the people of Micronesia and of Pohnpei and when the trial counselor has had a prior professional association with the client, but had been required to appear with supervision in previous FSM Supreme Court cases in which he represented the client, and when there are several private attorneys in Pohnpei who are admitted to practice before the court, the trial counselor will be admitted to appear in the case only after he has submitted a written motion and a written agreement, signed by an attorney admitted to practice before the FSM Supreme Court, stating that the attorney will supervise him. Nett Dist. Gov't v. Micronesian Longline Fishing Corp., 10 FSM Intrm. 520, 522 (Pon. 2002).
 
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COURT'S OPINION

ANDON L. AMARAICH, Chief Justice:

     A hearing was scheduled on defendant's motion to dismiss in this case on February 20, 2002. Craig Reffner, Esq. appeared on behalf of defendant Micronesian Longline Fishing Corp., Inc. (MLFC), along with MLFC representative Luciano Abraham. Edwel Santos, legal advisor for Nett District Government, appeared on behalf of Nett District Government, along with Nett District Government District Administrator Marcus Rosario. Mr. Santos is not admitted to practice before the FSM Supreme Court, and did not file any motion for permission to appear before the scheduled hearing. Before hearing the motion to dismiss, the Court inquired of Mr. Santos whether he intended to represent Nett District Government in this case, and, if so, why he had not filed any motion seeking the Court's permission to appear.

     Mr. Santos first responded that, under his understanding of the removal process, a case that is removed from a state court to the national court is removed with the parties' legal representatives from the state court proceeding attached to the case. That is, legal representatives whose cases are removed from state court to national court are somehow exempted from the FSM Supreme Court's Rules of Admission to Practice for those cases because they are already involved in the cases in the state court. Mr. Santos initially filed this case on behalf of Nett District Government in the Pohnpei State Supreme Court as Pohnpei Supreme Court Civil Action 132-2000. The case was removed by defendant pursuant to General Court Order 1992-2 based upon this Court's exclusive jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime actions, and also based upon the diversity of citizenship of the parties.

     Mr. Santos' reading of the FSM Supreme Court's Rules of Admission to Practice is erroneous. The Rules for Admission to Practice before the Supreme Court of the FSM apply to all cases properly before the national courts, regardless of where the case originated. The Chief Justice of the FSM Supreme Court has the constitutional authority to regulate the admission to practice before the national courts, and has exercised this authority in promulgating the Rules for Admission to Practice. There is no exception to these rules, express or implied, for legal representatives whose cases are removed to

[10 FSM Intrm. 522]

the national court from a state court. This Court previously has held that trial counselors admitted to practice in Pohnpei State Supreme Court are not automatically eligible to practice before the FSM Supreme Court, because no formal reciprocity agreement exists between these two jurisdictions. In re McCaffrey, 6 FSM Intrm. 20 (Pon. 1993). Thus, Mr. Santos must seek the permission of this Court to be admitted for this case pursuant to Rule IV of the Rules for Admission to Practice before the FSM Supreme Court.

     Mr. Santos also made an oral motion for admission to appear at the hearing on the motion to dismiss. The Court denied that motion, and informed Mr. Santos that he would be required to seek and obtain supervision from an attorney admitted to practice in the FSM Supreme Court before his motion would be considered. Rule IV of the Rules for Admission to Practice before the FSM Supreme Court sets forth the factors to be considered by the Court in determining whether an application for admission should be granted in a particular case. Rule IV(B) specifically applies to Trial Counselors seeking to appear without supervision, and states that:

[i]n addition to any relevant criteria specified in Rule IV.A., the Court will consider the availability to the trial counselor of an attorney for consultation; the wishes of the client and whether there had been prior professional association of the trial counselor with the client; the complexity of the litigation and the importance of the issues to the Federated States of Micronesia; the previously demonstrated competence of the trial counselor and other factors indicating whether the granting of the motion would be in the interests of justice.

     The issues involved in this litigation are complex, and they are important to the Federated States of Micronesia and to the people of parties. This case involves potential liability for damage to natural resources which are important to the people of Micronesia and the people of Pohnpei. The Court recognizes that Mr. Santos has a prior professional association with Nett Municipal Government; however, the Court notes that Mr. Santos also has been required to appear with supervision in previous cases before this Court in which he has represented the Nett District Government. See Order State of Pohnpei v. Government of the District of Nett, Civ. No. 1999-015 (May 17, 1999). The Court also notes that there are several private attorneys in Pohnpei who are admitted to practice before the FSM Supreme Court.

     Accordingly, Mr. Santos shall be admitted to appear in this particular case only after he has submitted a written motion, and a written agreement signed by an attorney admitted to practice before the FSM Supreme Court stating that the attorney will supervise Mr. Santos. For any personal appearance, Mr. Santos must be accompanied by and under the direct supervision of an attorney admitted to practice. Additionally, any pleading drafted by Mr. Santos must be reviewed and signed by the supervising attorney.

     The Court inquired how long Mr. Santos required to find an attorney to supervise him in this case, and when the parties would be ready for the hearing on the motion to dismiss. Counsel said they would be ready in about 30 days. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that the hearing on defendant's Motion to Dismiss is rescheduled for Thursday, March 21, 2002, at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Santos shall file any motion to appear before that time, including a written agreement with an attorney admitted to practice in the FSM Supreme Court to supervise him.

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