District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands
(D. N. Mar. I.)
District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Seal.png
Appeals toNinth Circuit
AuthorityArticle IV tribunal
Created by48 U.S.C. §§ 18211826
Composition methodPresidential nomination
with Senate advice and consent
Judge term length10 years (and until successor is chosen and qualified)[1]
Chief JudgeRamona V. Manglona

The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands[2] (in case citations, D. N. Mar. I.) is a federal territorial court whose jurisdiction comprises the United States-affiliated Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). It was established by Act of Congress in 1977, pursuant to an international agreement between the United States and the CNMI that brought the CNMI under United States sovereignty. The court began hearing cases in January 1978. The court regularly sits in Saipan but may sit elsewhere in the CNMI. The court has the same jurisdiction as United States district courts, including diversity jurisdiction and bankruptcy jurisdiction. However, the District Court is not an Article III U.S. District Court, and because of that its judge is appointed for a 10-year term[1] instead of for life. Appeals are taken to the Ninth Circuit.

Like most federal judges, judges in this court are appointed by the President, subject to Senate confirmation. Judges may serve more than one term, subject to the standard nominating process.

The United States is represented in civil and criminal litigation in the court by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The first District Judge appointed was Alfred Laureta, who served from 1978 until 1988. His successor, Alex R. Munson, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and confirmed by the Senate in 1988. Munson was nominated for a second ten-year term by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the Senate in 1998. He took senior status effective February 28, 2010.[3] On January 26, 2011, President Obama nominated Ramona Villagomez Manglona to be Judge for the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands for a term of ten years. The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination by voice vote on July 26, 2011 and she received her commission on July 29, 2011.[4] If not reappointed, her term would have ended on July 28, 2021, although it will continue thereafter until her successor is chosen and qualified.

The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands was established by Pub. L. 95-157, 91 Stat. 1265 (Nov. 8, 1977), and is codified at 48 U.S.C. § 1821, a nonpositive law title.

Current judges

As of July 29, 2011:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
3 Chief Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona Saipan 1967 2011–present 2011–present Obama
2 Senior Judge Alex R. Munson inactive[5] 1941 1988–2011 1988–2011 2011–present Reagan

Vacancy and pending nomination

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
1 Saipan Ramona Villagomez Manglona Term expired July 29, 2021

Former judges

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Alfred Laureta MP 1924–2020 1978–1988 1978–1988 Carter Expiration of term

See also


  1. ^ a b "48 U.S. Code § 1821(b)(1)". Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  2. ^ "48 U.S. Code § 1821 - District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands". Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  3. ^ Ferdie de la Torre (December 2, 2009). "Munson tells Obama he is retiring in Feb". Saipan Tribune. Archived from the original on December 20, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Saipan Tribune Archived June 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "District Court honors former Chief Judge Alex Munson". www.postguam.com. Retrieved February 28, 2020.