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Guam port names new legal counsel

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

James Canto

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Port Authority of Guam has augmented its legal team with the hiring of attorney James L. Canto, formerly the deputy attorney general of the Civil Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

“I am thrilled that Attorney Canto has joined the Port Authority of Guam. His extensive legal acumen and experience will provide management with advice on a range of issues and provide guidance with decisions that could have potential legal ramifications and assist in averting possible problems with contract management, negotiation and personnel matters,” General Manager Rory J. Respicio said.

Canto was raised on Guam and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School. After serving as a paralegal in the U.S. Army JAG Corps and graduating from Trenton State College, he obtained his law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Afterward, he returned home to pursue what has now been a 26-year-long career as an attorney and jurist.

Over that time, Canto was an assistant public defender at the Public Defender Service Corporation; a co-founding member of an alternate indigent defense firm; a co-founding partner of a private law firm where he specialized in business and commercial litigation; and chief legal counsel to former Gov. Eddie Calvo.

In 2011, Canto was appointed as a Guam Superior Court Judge. For five years, he sat as a general jurisdiction judge presiding over criminal, civil, family, and probate cases. In 2016, he relocated to Los Angeles where he practiced construction law, medical malpractice defense, hospital employment litigation defense, and appellate advocacy.


In 2019, Canto was tapped by Attorney General Leevin Taitano Camacho to serve as deputy attorney general for the Civil Litigation Division, where he headed the division, responsible for defending government agencies in trial and appellate litigation, and prosecuting civil cases on behalf of the government of Guam, in both local and federal courts.

“I decided to accept a position at Port Authority of Guam because I wanted to be part of a dynamic and cohesive team that strives to advance Guam economically and socially, and that is precisely what the Port family does," Canto said.

"I also wanted to use my experience to counsel and advise Port management, and to perform transactional work such as to craft and manage the many Port contracts, in addition to using my litigation skills.”

”I hope to work with Staff Attorney Christine Claveria Arriola to forge a powerful and effective Port legal team. I wish to provide sage legal advice to management in order to continue the Port's recent success, and to help guide and navigate the Port through any legal difficulties that may lie ahead to arrive at a highly productive future,” Canto added.

When not occupied with work, Canto's personal interests include studying philosophy, theoretical physics, and neuroscience but these days all of his spare time is dominated by his 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons.

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