November 10, 2005

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

Defense counsel filed a third motion to dismiss Monday in the ongoing impeachment trial of Enter Norman, former chief minister of U municipality. Counsel Joseph S. Phillip said the motion contends that the original impeachment resolution issued against Norman by the council of U does not allege any actual offenses. "All the allegations are false," said Phillip.

Previous motions to dismiss were denied by the 3-member panel presiding over the case. Proceedings to impeach Norman resulted after a Pohnpei State Auditor report indicated "potential fraud and abuse of government funds" under Norman's management and direction. Alleged offenses include irregularities in financial records, tampering with official documents, improper expense documentation and a budget overrun of more than $20,500. The 53-page audit covered September 2002 through September 2003.

However, a panel ruling to prohibit the contents and conclusions of the audit complicates the prosecution's case. According to prosecuting attorney Dickson Santos, allegations of Norman's wrongdoing must be proven through witness testimony rather than the state auditor's report, a public document. "They want me to prove the contents of the audit," he said. This is a frustrating prospect Santos said, "That is outside of their rule."

Further, Santos views the repeated motions to dismiss as a deliberate stalling effort. "He's playing some kind of tricks to delay the case," he said. "He has no way to win the case." Defense attorney Phillip maintains the accusations against Norman to be invalid on various grounds, primarily due to what he describes as Norman's inability to issue a formal reply to details contained within the audit. Since Norman's files and records were removed from his office by the auditor's office, Phillip said, he has been unable to formally confirm or deny the audit's findings.This rationale led to panel's decision to consider the audit as a draft rather than a complete document and to exclude the detailed findings from considerations.

Efforts last week by the prosecution to deliver to Phillip some of the documents in question were denied. According to Phillip, there were fewer documents than he understood there to be, concluding someone had tampered with them. Upon the conclusion of the contentious trial, Santos said the U council hopes to prosecute Norman for embezzlement of funds and misconduct while in public office. Panel members include Pohnpei Supreme Court Chief Justice Judah C. Johnny, Pohnpei Associate Justice Benjamin Rodriguez and Sokehs Chief Justice Nickontro Johnny. The trial is set to resume November 16.