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Guam's chief justice seeks court employees' inclusion in pay raise plan

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Emphasizing the critical role court employees play in the administration of justice, Chief Justice Robert J. Torres called for the judiciary's inclusion in the proposed pay raise plan for government employees.

If enacted, Bill 24-37 (COR) would appropriate $16 million for a 22 percent upward adjustment to employees on the General Pay Plan.

Currently, the proposed measure does not include judicial branch employees. During the hearing, Torres emphasized the Judiciary’s duty to uphold the laws, resolve disputes in a timely manner, and provide efficient and effective court services to the public.

“Carrying out this mission is a dedicated assembly of court employees—over half of whom fall under pay structures based on the GPP,” Torres said a public hearing on the bill. “As an independent and co-equal branch of government, we come before you today seeking parity and inclusion for these men and women.”

The cost to implement the pay adjustments for the Judiciary is $1,049,263. Although the Judiciary possesses the legal authority to adjust the pay of its employees, the adjustments are subject to the availability of funds.

“Absent an additional appropriation, the Judiciary will be unable to mirror the Department of Administration’s recommended adjustments to our personnel—prompting a likely exodus of valued employees,” Torres said.

Employees that fall under the GPP include the court’s client services division which supports underserved families on Guam, social workers at the Office of the Public Guardian who protect the interests of the island’s vulnerable adult population, and clerks who ensure that court proceedings run smoothly, cases are processed correctly, and filings are current, accurate, and accessible to all parties. “I know we all want a legal system that creates a safer community,” concluded Torres.

“But to uphold the rule of law, we must strengthen the court’s backbone. We respectfully urge our sister branch to support parity for our employees in doing so, we invest in not just the future of this branch, but the public we mutually serve," Torres said.

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