District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands
The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands 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 technically not a true U.S. District Court because its judge is appointed for a 10-year term instead of for a lifetime term (see Article I and Article III tribunals). Appeals are taken to the Ninth Circuit.
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. 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. Her term will end on July 28, 2021.