The Survival of Customary Law in the Northern Mariana Islands
28 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 20, 2008
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”), a U.S. territory located in the Pacific Ocean just north of Guam, is one of few American jurisdictions in which the traditional cultural practices celebrated by a minority of the population have the force of law. Problematically, many of these laws are uncodified and no longer practiced by the majority of people in the jurisdiction. The CNMI judiciary often stumbles through cases of first impression with no guidance from the CNMI legislature, resulting in conflicting case law. This article surveys the customary law in place in the CNMI, and considers the obstacles of applying this law in a society whose culture and customs are rapidly evolving.
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