Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

President Urusemal files petition against Benson Resolution

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): January 22, 2004 - President Joseph J. Urusemal has filed a Writ of Prohibition with the Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia against Congressional Resolution no. 13-69 regarding discontinuation of service by Justice Richard E. Benson.

Filed on January 20, the Petition seeks an order from the Court to prevent the enforcement of the Benson Resolution that was adopted on Monday by the Third Special Session of the Thirteenth Congress of the FSM.

The Resolution disapproved the continuation of service of retired FSM Supreme Court Justice Benson, citing that his "cumulative services as a temporary Justice has exceeded three months" in light of which he "shall hereafter be ineligible for further service as temporary justice for one year, unless Congress shall sooner revoke its disapproval."

According to Title 4 of the FSM Code, Congress has the authority to remove temporary justices by resolution.

The Petition cites that Congress, by way of the FSM Code, has "unconstitutionally by-passed all the Constitutional checks and balances for removal of a Supreme Court justice." It continued that it is by the Constitution, that the Chief Justice makes special assignments and by rule, establish the process of these assignments. According to the Petition, Congress may, by statute, amend the rules not the assignments.

The Petition continued that Title 4 of the FSM Code (2) "must be stricken as an unconstitutional encroachment upon the powers expressly reserved to the Chief Justice or otherwise an unconstitutional process for removal of a Supreme Court justice, or both."

Justice Benson retired from the FSM in August 2001 after serving nearly two decades in the FSM Supreme Court. On December 8 2004, he was contracted by the FSM Supreme Court to preside as a Specially Appointed Justice over a criminal case involving several former and seated member of the FSM Congress.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356