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Guam Supreme Court agrees to hear case regarding attorney general's role

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Supreme Court of Guam has agreed to hear Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's request for a declaratory judgment on the attorney general's duties to executive branch agencies, which she filed on March 14.

Assuming jurisdiction over the case, the court pointed out that the resolution of the questions presented before the court "will substantially affect government function."

The governor asked the Supreme Court to step in following Attorney General Douglas Moylan's pullout of his legal services from 22 executive agencies, which are under investigation by his office.

"Provision of competent legal services to the executive branch is of great public concern and it is necessary for the 22 agencies to have legal representation to advise and defend public officials, review and approve public contracts, and maintain the uninterrupted operation of the agencies." the court said.

The court said it has jurisdiction over declaratory judgment actions regarding “the interpretation of any law, federal or local, lying within the jurisdiction of the courts of Guam to decide, and upon any question affecting the powers and duties of (the governor) and the operation of the executive branch."

The court will tackle the follow questions:
1. May the Attorney General of Guam withdraw from legal representation of an executive branch agency, or otherwise decline to provide legal services to such agency, when the attorney general claims such representation conflicts with ongoing investigations or prosecutions?
2. May the attorney general provide legal services to the agency, notwithstanding his access to confidential information from both the agency and the investigations and prosecutions?
3. Is the attorney general required to implement conflict protocols consistent with the Guam Rules of Professional Conduct including, but not limited to, an ethical screen or assignment of investigations or prosecutions of agency officials to an independent special prosecutor?
4. If the attorney general withdraws from representing an agency—or is otherwise unable provide legal services to the agency—may the agency employ or procure the services of an attorney independent from the attorney general to perform legal services for the agency, including review and approval of agency contracts as to legality and form?

“The Supreme Court's Order highlights what many of our agencies already know to be true, that the Attorney General’s withdrawal from representing our agencies will substantially impact government operations because 22 of our most impacted agencies will be left without legal services they need to do their important work,” Leon Guerrero said.

“We are hopeful that a short briefing and argument schedule will enable the Supreme Court to reach a swift decision on these issues, and restore stability to our agencies after the chaos caused by the Attorney General's withdrawal.”


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