District Court of Guam
Overview of the District Court of Guam
The District Court of Guam is a federal trial court that covers the United States territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. It handles both civil and criminal matters that arise under federal law. The District Court of Guam is part of the Ninth Circuit Court system.
History and Formation
The District Court of Guam was established in 1950 after Guam became a U.S. territory following World War II. Prior to this, Guam was under naval governance. The court was authorized under 48 U.S.C. § 1424.
Jurisdiction and Caseloads
The District Court of Guam has jurisdiction over federal cases arising in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. This includes federal crimes, bankruptcy, patent and copyright, admiralty, and other matters. On average, the court handles around 300 filed cases per year.
The District Court of Guam serves the territory of Guam, which covers 212 square miles in the western Pacific Ocean. It also covers the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which includes 14 islands with a population of around 50,000 people.
Location and Facilities
The District Court of Guam is located in the island of Guam’s capital city of Hagåtña. The main courthouse is the United States Courthouse at 520 West Soledad Avenue, Suite 344, Hagåtña, Guam 96910-4916. This building houses the courtrooms, judges’ chambers, clerk’s office, and other facilities.
Judges and Officers
The District Court of Guam has two authorized federal judgeships, both currently filled. The current judges are Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood and Judge Ramona V. Manglona.
The U.S. Marshal for the court is Fernando L. G. Sablan. The court also has a clerk of court and staff attorneys to assist the judges.
Specialty Courts and Programs
The District Court of Guam operates several specialty courts and programs, including:
- Drug Court Program
- Veterans Treatment Court
- Reentry Court
These programs aim to provide alternatives to incarceration for eligible participants.
Some high-profile cases that have come before the District Court of Guam include:
- United States v. Leon Guerrero – drug trafficking prosecution
- Bank of Guam v. United States – dispute over WWII reparations
- Brandi v. Guam Power Authority – power outage negligence lawsuit
Court Operations and Procedures
The District Court of Guam maintains its own Local Rules of Practice that govern procedures and operations. The court has regular operating hours from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays. The District Court of Guam permits electronic case filing through its CM/ECF system.
Budget and Finances
For the fiscal year 2022, Congress appropriated a budget of over $5.1 million for the District Court of Guam. This covers the salaries and expenses of judges, staff, jurors, etc. Revenues are also collected from court fees and costs.
Federal Public Defender
The Federal Public Defender for the District Court of Guam is located in Hagåtña and provides legal representation for indigent criminal defendants. This office has several staff attorneys who handle federal cases.
The Guam Bar Association is the main professional association for lawyers admitted to practice before the District Court of Guam. The GBA provides networking, CLE seminars, programs, and other resources.
Law Schools in District
There are no law schools currently located within the districts covered by the District Court of Guam. The University of Guam provides undergraduate programs but does not have a law school.
Clerk of Court
The District Court of Guam’s Clerk of Court is Jeanne Quinata. The Clerk’s Office handles filings, maintains records, provides certified copies, enforces rules, and supports court operations.
Local Rules and Forms
Attorneys practicing before the court must follow the District Court of Guam’s Local Rules and use its required forms. These include rules on electronic filing, courtroom conduct, motion practice, and other procedures.
Fees and Costs
Filing a new civil case in the District Court of Guam requires a $350 fee, along with other set fees for services. Costs may be awarded to prevailing parties at the court’s discretion per the federal rules.
The District Court of Guam periodically has openings for employment, such as for law clerks, court reporters, interpreters, probation officers, and other positions assisting the court. Job announcements are posted on the court’s website.
Admissions and Practicing Requirements
Attorneys must be admitted to the bar of the District Court of Guam before practicing. This requires an active law license and submitting an application with the court. Pro hac vice admission is also available for out-of-district attorneys.
Phone: (671) 477-7827
Address: 520 West Soledad Avenue, Suite 344, Hagåtña, Guam 96910-4916
In conclusion, the District Court of Guam plays an important role in administering justice and upholding federal law in its territories. The court has a long history dating back to territorial governance after WWII. With jurisdiction over federal cases arising in Guam and the NMI, the District Court serves an essential function. It provides fair and impartial justice with its specialty programs, operations, judges, and staff. For legal guidance or to practice in the court, contact its clerk’s office or visit online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many district judges serve on the District Court of Guam?
A: The District Court of Guam has two authorized federal district judge positions, both currently filled.
Q: What types of cases does the District Court of Guam handle?
A: The court handles civil and criminal cases that arise under federal law in its territorial jurisdictions of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Q: Who represents criminal defendants in the District Court of Guam?
A: The Federal Public Defender office provides legal representation to indigent defendants facing federal criminal charges.
Q: Does the District Court of Guam have a jury pool?
A: Yes, the court summons jurors from Guam and the NMI to serve and hear cases when required.
Q: Where can I find the local rules for the District Court of Guam?
A: The court’s Local Rules of Practice are available on its official website at www.gud.uscourts.gov.