Appellate Division

APPEAL No. 13-96

Hal E. Sheets, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney General  
For Attorney General

Charles Greenfield, Esq.,
Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
for Martin Jano

Before:      JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Chief Justice
                   NELSON A. JOSEPH, Associate Justice
                   HENRY P. BIZA, Associate Justice

     This matter came on for hearing before the Appellate Division of this Court on February 20, 1997, pursuant to a motion filed in the Trial Division of this Court, on February 12, 1996, by Assistant Attorney General, Todd Richards, is seeking to bar the appearance of Martin Jano as counsel in the civil case of FHK Enterprises, Inc., v. Albert Panuelo and Pohnpei State (PCA No. 49-96) and a response filed by the State of Pohnpei on October 31, 2992, to Martin Jano's motion for appearance in a criminal case Pohnpei State v. FHK Enterprises (PKD No. 72-96).

     The matter was apparently placed on the Appellate Court Calendar because of the provisions of Rule I(B) of the Pohnpei Supreme Court, Rules of Professional Conduct, which reads as follows:

      "B. ADMINISTRATION. Until otherwise provided by law, the Appellate Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court shall serve as the Professional Authority to administer these Rules. Alleged violations of the Rules may be reported to the Appellate Division of the State Court."


     The language of the Rule I(B), specifically the second sentence thereof, purports to place original jurisdiction in the Appellate Division of this Court in matters involving a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Such original jurisdiction is not in accord with the strictly appellate jurisdiction vested in the Court under Section 3(3) of Article 10 of the Pohnpei Constitution, and Section 16-6 of the Pohnpei.Judiciary Act, S.L. 3L-99-95.

      On the basis of the foregoings, we hold that the Appellate Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court is not the proper forum to hear at first instance, a motion for disciplinary proceedings against an attorney admitted to practice in the State of Pohnpei.

     In the event, to the extent that Rule I(B) of the Pohnpei Rules of the Professional Conduct purports to place such original jurisdiction in the Appellate Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court, Rule I(B) is unconstitutional, unlawful and void.

     Having thus found, the motion to bar attorney Martin Jano from appearing in civil action FHK Enterprises Inc. v. Pohnpei State, PCA No. 49-96, and in criminal case Pohnpei State v. FHK Enterprises Inc. PKD No. 71-96 is not properly before this Court. Jurisdiction is lacking. There being no jurisdiction, we can not grant. If we can not grant, we can not deny. We therefore abstain. This action is dismissed.

      It is Ordered, March 17, 1997

Judah C. Johnny
Chief Justice
Nelson A. Joseph
Associate Justice

Henry P. Biza
Associate Justice

Entered: /s/
Acting Appallate Clerk
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