Hon. Miguel S. Demapan (2010)


Hon. Miguel S. Demapan (2010)


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The holder of the highest judicial post in the Northern Mariana Islands will be the commencement speaker for Santa Clara University School of Law’s Class of 2010.

Miguel S. Demapan, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), will be the honored speaker at SCU Law’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 22 at 9:30 a.m. in the Mission Gardens.

In his role as a former Superior Court judge and as the current chief justice, Demapan has presided over and written rulings on key issues for the CNMI, including cases of government bribery and abuse of power. He also recently oversaw an innovative movement to push home-foreclosure cases into mediation, rather than the courts, to help resolve one of the CNMI’s top social crises.

Demapan, who received his J.D. from Santa Clara University Law School in 1985, took his current post in 1999, just 11 years after the CNMI Supreme Court was established as the highest body in the islands’ post-WWII judicial system. He is the third jurist to hold this position.

As the young judiciary’s top official, Demapan is the chairman of the Commonwealth Law Revision Commission, which is charged with codifying rules for appellate cases, bar admissions, and judicial conduct, among other regulations.

Demapan was previously a director of the U.S. Conference of Chief Justices, which comprises Chief Justices of the highest courts in the states and territories. The Conference discusses national issues and lobbies to maintain the independence of judiciaries and ensure uniformity in the operation of the courts.

“All of us at Santa Clara University Law School are very proud of the leadership and judicial service shown by our distinguished graduate, Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan,” says Santa Clara Law Dean Donald J. Polden. "His longstanding professional service to the citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands and his many professional achievements provide an excellent example of a Santa Clara Law graduate—a lawyer of competence, conscience and compassion. We are pleased that he will join us in congratulating the graduating class of 2010 and their families and friends at this year's law commencement.”

Demapan will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from SCU, a poignant development given that he was unable to attend his own 1985 graduation ceremony due to pressing matters at home.

Among the other leadership and professional positions he has held:

* Member, CNMI Tax Task Force
* Member, CNMI Federal Bench Council
* Judge pro tem, Superior Court of Guam
* Justice pro tem, Supreme Court of Guam
* Member and President, Pacific Judicial Council
* Member, Asia Pacific Conference of Chief Justices
* Member, World Jurist Association
* Representative, National Judicial College Assembly
* Alumnus, National Judicial College (Reno, Nevada)
* Alumnus, National Institute of Trial Advocacy Chief Justice

Born and raised on Saipan, Chief Justice Demapan graduated as class valedictorian of Marianas High School in 1971. Originally interested in pursuing a medical career, Demapan earned his Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in chemistry from Seattle University in 1975, followed by a Masters in Business Administration with honors from Golden Gate University in San Francisco in 1983. He turned to law thereafter, earning his Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University in 1985, and in 2005, a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Guam.

After law school, Demapan returned to Saipan and began his legal career as general counsel for J.C. Tenorio Enterprises, Inc. After a few years in private practice, representing major business and local clients, Demapan became an associate judge for the Commonwealth Superior Court in 1992, and later an associate justice in the Commonwealth Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of CNMI covers the 14 islands in the territory with a combined population of about 80,000 people. The Court consists of a panel of three permanent members and hears dozens of cases a year, on a quarterly basis, in all areas of the law.

Demapan and his wife Frances Tenorio Demapan have five children.

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Hon. Miguel S. Demapan (2010)