You don't see this sort of thing every day.

The CEO of Bridge Capital, John K. Baldwin, lives and works in the Northern Mariana Islands — "one of the two insular area Commonwealths of the United States of America, the other being Puerto Rico", per Wikipedia, Blawgletter's main source for facts whose accuracy doesn't matter.

The feds thought Baldwin had short-paid his income tax by around $5 million. But he remitted the amount and then sued to Get It Back.

The U.S. district judge in Saipan, the main island in the Marianas, required the U.S. to send a person with full authority to settle to an initial settlement conference, citing the court's local rule on the subject. Pointing to the initialness of the conference and the hardship of sending the Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to it, the government resisted, even to the extent of asking the Ninth Circuit to grant mandamus relief blocking the local rule.

The Ninth Circuit granted the request. Even if the AAG flew to Saipan, the panel noted, she would still need the okay of the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Although it upheld the power of district courts to direct that people with full authority to settle attend mediations and other settlement efforts, the court ruled that the district court abused its discretion in this case. United States v. United States District Court for the N. Mariana Islands, No. 11-72940 (9th Cir. Sept. 12, 2012).

Fun facts:

The district court ordered the parties to go to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for the conference, so that they could confer with Senior District Judge Alex Munson, who spent two decades as a district judge in the Marianas court before retiring to the Gem State.

A visiting judge, an Iowan who seems to have inherited the case from the regular Chief Judge of the Marianas, last year granted Baldwin's request for a jury trial. His opinion denying a motion for rehearing quoted James Otis, Jr., Gerald Barzan, Charles S. May, Thomas Jefferson, and Bulfinch's Mythology.