Falan’s attorney questions assistant legal counsel’s capacity to represent Yap legislature in court
By Joyce McClure
The attorney for former Yap Gov. Henry Falan is challenging the qualification of an assistant legislative counsel to defend the 10th Yap State Legislature before the FSM Supreme Court in the lawsuit filed by the ousted state leader against the chamber.
Marstella E. Jack, Falan’s lawyer, argued that Genevieve Mangefel may be competent to represent the YSL but she is only allowed to appear in court under the supervision of an attorney who is admitted to the FSM bar and can practice law before the bench.
Jack said Mangefel is only a trial counselor, not a licensed attorney, and therefore not qualified to practice law before the FSM Supreme Court.
The Trial Counselor Program offered by the College of Micronesia awards a certificate of achievement to students who gain some legal skills and knowledge of the law and allows graduates to engage in limited legal practices.
Mangefel sought a one-week extension to respond to the civil suit filed by Falan against the 10th Yap State Legislature on Nov. 7. The lawsuit stemmed from the legislature’s move to oust Falan from office in December 2021.
In requesting the extension, Mangefel said she was on sick leave from Nov. 14 to 22 plus an “additional day of the 24th to recover from the ongoing flu and aftermath of her intravenous medication.”
In response, Jack filed an opposition to Mangefel’s request on Dec. 6, questioning the assistant legislative counsel’s legal standing to seek the plea for an extension.
Mangefel did not ask for the court’s approval to appear “pro hac vice” or one-time representation, to authorize her petition. But even if she did, Jack said, Mangefel must still receive the court’s approval to appear this one time.
If the court denies Mangefel’s motion, “it follows that a default motion would be filed, unless the court orders the YSL to hire legal counsel who is admitted to practice before the FSM court,” Jack told the Pacific Island Times.
The lawsuit charges the denial of Falan’s due process rights during the second YSL hearing on Dec. 16, 2021, when allegations of “misfeasance or malfeasance” resulted in an 8-2 vote to remove Falan from office.
The first vote on Oct. 19, 2021, resulted in a 7 to 3 vote to not impeach. After the resolution was adopted, Falan was again denied his due process rights when he was immediately removed from office without trial on the merits of the allegations.