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Guam's attorney general owes duty to government, Supreme Court rules



By Pacific Island Times News Staff


The Guam Supreme Court has issued a declaratory judgment addressing the crisis brought on by Attorney General Doug Moylan’s sudden withdrawal of legal services from 22 Executive Branch agencies on February 28, 2024.


The court’s decision, which upheld Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s arguments, highlights the impropriety of the attorney general’s conduct toward his agency clients and the governor’s authority and responsibility to protect those agencies where the attorney general refuses to act.


Consistent with its prior decisions, the court held that the rules of ethics apply to the Office of the Attorney General, meaning that he owes a duty of confidentiality and loyalty to agencies and that he may not use information related to his agency representation to the agencies’ disadvantage, including in prosecutions of government officials.


The court ordered the attorney general to take steps to protect his agency clients if a potential conflict arises, including implementing conflict walls, appointing special attorneys general, or recusing from a prosecution.


The court further held that, in extraordinary circumstances like this case, the governor may invoke her ultimate Organic Act responsibility for supervision and control of the executive branch and may appoint special assistant attorneys general to perform tasks the attorney general refuses to perform to ensure the government continues to function properly.  


“The court’s decision will immediately relieve the strain and chaos the attorney general caused in the executive branch because he refuses to perform his duties under the law and the ethics rules,” Leon Guerrero said. “We now have a path forward to ensure these agencies receive the services they need to do their best work for our people.”


“We are thankful the Supreme Court issued its thorough decision expeditiously, which will go a long way to ensuring our agencies can act lawfully and confidently, and critical services can continue to flow,” added Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio. “We are also hopeful that the Attorney General will heed the Court’s clear instructions so that our Government can function more efficiently going forward.”



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