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108th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     108-638

======================================================================



 
  AMENDING THE ORGANIC ACT OF GUAM FOR THE PURPOSES OF CLARIFYING THE 
                    LOCAL JUDICIAL STRUCTURE OF GUAM

                                _______
                                

 September 7, 2004.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Pombo, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2400]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 2400) to amend the Organic Act of Guam for the purposes 
of clarifying the local judicial structure of Guam, haing 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 2400 is to amend the Organic Act of 
Guam for the purposes of clarifying the local judicial 
structure of Guam.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    H.R. 2400 amends the Organic Act of Guam to establish the 
Supreme Court of Guam as the highest local court in the 
territory. H.R. 2400 also amends the Organic Act to require a 
unified judicial system composed of: (1) an appellate court 
designated as the ``Supreme Court of Guam''; (2) a trial court 
designated as the ``Superior Court of Guam''; and (3) other 
lower local courts as may have been or may hereafter be 
established by the laws of Guam.
    Originally, appellate cases in Guam that fell under 
territorial jurisdiction were reviewed by the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 1973, the 12th Guam 
Legislature established the first Supreme Court of Guam to hear 
these appealed cases. The establishment of the court was ruled 
to be unauthorized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Territory of 
Guam v. Olsen, 431 U.S. 195 (1977). In 1984, in response to 
Olsen, Congress amended the Organic Act of Guam permitting the 
territorial legislature to create an appellate court to hear 
all cases in Guam over which any court established by the 
Constitution and laws of the United States does not have 
exclusive jurisdiction.
    When the Guam Legislature passed legislation to create the 
Supreme Court of Guam in 1992, it intended to make this entity 
the highest local court and vest it with those powers 
traditionally held and exercised by the highest court of a 
State or territory.
    In authorizing the creation of an appellate court for Guam, 
the Congress left the newly created court subordinate to Guam's 
other two branches of government. Because the judiciary was 
established under Guam law, it can be subject to changes based 
upon shifts in control of Guam's executive and legislative 
branches.
    Establishing the Supreme Court of Guam within Guam's 
Organic Act will make the judiciary a coequal branch of 
government. The Committee believes H.R. 2400 would 
appropriately correct the unintended oversight of the Omnibus 
Territories Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-454) and insulate the 
judiciary in Guam from local politics and undue political 
interference. The Committee also believes H.R. 2400 would 
remove any uncertainty regarding future actions that threaten 
to undo the clarity of roles recently established in Guam 
public law. Recent developments in Guam have emphasized the 
need for H.R. 2400 in as much as the Supreme Court of Guam has 
rendered judgments on local disputes between different branches 
for the Government of Guam and between elected officials in the 
territory.
    The Committee also notes that in the 107th Congress, there 
was local opposition on Guam to similar legislation, including 
some unfavorable views that were received by the Committee. 
However, the Guam Legislature subsequently took action on 
October 31, 2003, with the enactment of Public Law 27-31, which 
established the Supreme Court of Guam as the highest court with 
administrative control over the judiciary in the territory. In 
addition, on April 23, 2004, the Guam Legislature approved 
Resolution No. 139, sponsored by all 15 of its members, 
expressing their support of H.R. 2400. It is important to note 
that the current Governor of Guam, Governor Camacho, wrote to 
the author of the bill on May 7, 2004, in support of H.R. 2400, 
stating ``My personal preference is for our tri-partite 
structure of government to be established in a Guam 
Constitution. Further, the specifics of the internal operation 
of our judicial branch should be established locally. * * * 
However * * * until Guam adopts its own constitution, * * * I 
support your efforts to establish Guam's judicial branch in our 
Organic Act.''

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 2400 was introduced on June 10, 2003, by Congresswoman 
Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Resources. On July 14, 2004, the Full Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. No amendments were offered, 
and the bill was ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by unanimous consent.
    The Committee held hearings on the restructuring of Guam's 
judicial branch during the 105th and 107th Congresses, and in 
the 107th Congress, a similar bill, H.R. 521, was favorably 
reported from the Committee on Resources by unanimous consent.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. This bill does 
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not 
apply.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 21, 2004.
Hon. Richard W. Pombo,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2400, a bill to 
amend the Organic Act of Guam for the purposes of clarifying 
the local judicial structure of Guam.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Matthew 
Pickford (for federal costs) and Marjorie A. Miller (for the 
state and local impact).
            Sincerely,
                                      Elizabeth M. Robinson
                               (For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2400--A bill to amend the Organic Act of Guam for the purposes of 
        clarifying the local judicial structure of Guam

    H.R. 2400 would amend the Organic Act of Guam to establish 
a unified judicial system in Guam, independent of the Guam 
legislature, consisting of an appellate court (Supreme Court) 
and a trial court (Superior Court of Guam). In addition,the 
bill would give the Supreme Court administrative authority over 
all local courts. CBO estimates that enacting this legislation 
would have no impact on the federal budget because it would 
affect the structure of the local judiciary system.
    The bill contains no private-sector mandates as defined in 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). H.R. 2400 contains an 
intergovernmental mandate as defined in UMRA, but CBO estimates 
that the cost of the mandate would be well below the threshold 
established in that act ($60 million in 2004, adjusted annually 
for inflation). This mandate is a preemption of authority 
delegated to the legislature of Guam by the Organic Act of 
Guam. Under that act, the local legislature currently has the 
authority to establish the structure of the Guam judiciary. 
H.R. 2400 would eliminate that authority and impose a specific 
structure. Because this structure is similar to the existing 
system, however, we expect that the mandate would impose no 
significant costs on the government of Guam. Enacting this bill 
would have no impact on the budgets of other state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Matthew 
Pickford (for federal costs) and Marjorie A. Miller (for the 
state and local impact). This estimate approved by Peter H. 
Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates, as defined in 
Public law 104-4.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

ORGANIC ACT OF GUAM

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


  Sec. 22. [(a) The judicial authority of Guam shall be vested 
in a court of record established by Congress, designated the 
``District Court of Guam,'' and such local court or courts as 
may have been or shall hereafter be established by the laws of 
Guam in conformity with section 22A of this Act.] (a)(1) The 
judicial authority of Guam shall be vested in a court 
established by Congress designated as the ``District Court of 
Guam'', and a judicial branch of Guam which branch shall 
constitute a unified judicial system and include an appellate 
court designated as the ``Supreme Court of Guam'', a trial 
court designated as the ``Superior Court of Guam'', and such 
other lower local courts as may have been or shall hereafter be 
established by the laws of Guam.
  (2) The Supreme Court of Guam may, by rules of such court, 
create divisions of the Superior Court of Guam and other local 
courts of Guam.
  (3) The courts of record for Guam shall be the District Court 
of Guam, the Supreme Court of Guam, the Superior Court of Guam 
(except the Traffic and Small Claims divisions of the Superior 
Court of Guam) and any other local courts or divisions of local 
courts that the Supreme Court of Guam shall designate.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sec. 22A. (a) The local courts of Guam shall consist of such 
trial court or courts as may have been or may hereafter be 
established by the laws of Guam. On or after the effective date 
of this Act, the legislature of Guam may in its discretion 
establish an appellate court.
  [(b) The legislature may vest in the local courts 
jurisdiction over all causes in Guam over which any court 
established by the Constitution and laws of the United States 
does not have exclusive jurisdiction. Such jurisdiction shall 
be subject to the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction 
conferred on the District Court of Guam by section 22(b) of 
this Act.
  [(c) The practice and procedure in the local courts and the 
qualifications and duties of the judges thereof shall be 
governed by the laws of Guam and the rules of those courts.]
  Sec. 22A. (a) The Supreme Court of Guam shall be the highest 
court of the judicial branch of Guam (excluding the District 
Court of Guam) and shall--
          (1) have original jurisdiction over proceedings 
        necessary to protect its appellate jurisdiction and 
        supervisory authority and such other original 
        jurisdiction as the laws of Guam may provide;
          (2) have jurisdiction to hear appeals over any cause 
        in Guam decided by the Superior Court of Guam or other 
        courts established under the laws of Guam;
          (3) have jurisdiction to issue all orders and writs 
        in aid of its appellate, supervisory, and original 
        jurisdiction, including those orders necessary for the 
        supervision of the judicial branch of Guam;
          (4) have supervisory jurisdiction over the Superior 
        Court of Guam and all other courts of the judicial 
        branch of Guam;
          (5) hear and determine appeals by a panel of three of 
        the justices of the Supreme Court of Guam and a 
        concurrence of two such justices shall be necessary to 
        a decision of the Supreme Court of Guam on the merits 
        of an appeal;
          (6) make and promulgate rules governing the 
        administration of the judiciary and the practice and 
        procedure in the courts of the judicial branch of Guam, 
        including procedures for the determination of an appeal 
        en banc; and
          (7) govern attorney and judicial ethics and the 
        practice of law in Guam, including admission to 
        practice law and the conduct and discipline of persons 
        admitted to practice law.
  (b) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam--
          (1) shall preside over the Supreme Court unless 
        disqualified or unable to act;
          (2) shall be the administrative head of, and have 
        general supervisory power over, all departments, 
        divisions, and other instrumentalities of the judicial 
        branch of Guam; and
          (3) may issue such administrative orders on behalf of 
        the Supreme Court of Guam as necessary for the 
        efficient administration of the judicial branch of 
        Guam.
  (c) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam, or a 
justice sitting in place of such Chief Justice, may make any 
appropriate order with respect to--
          (1) an appeal prior to the hearing and determination 
        of that appeal on the merits; or
          (2) dismissal of an appeal for lack of jurisdiction 
        or failure to take or prosecute the appeal in 
        accordance with applicable laws or rules of procedure.
  (d) Except as granted to the Supreme Court of Guam or 
otherwise provided by this Act or any other Act of Congress, 
the Superior Court of Guam and all other local courts 
established by the laws of Guam shall have such original and 
appellate jurisdiction over all causes in Guam as the laws of 
Guam provide, except that such jurisdiction shall be subject to 
the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction conferred on the 
District Court of Guam under section 22 of this Act.
  (e) The qualifications and duties of the justices and judges 
of the Supreme Court of Guam, the Superior Court of Guam, and 
all other local courts established by the laws of Guam shall be 
governed by the laws of Guam and the rules of such courts.
  Sec. 22B. The relations between the courts established by the 
Constitution or laws of the United States and the local courts 
of Guam with respect to appeals, certiorari, removal of causes, 
the issuance of writs of habeas corpus, and other matters or 
proceedings shall be governed by the laws of the United States 
pertaining to the relations between the courts of the United 
States, including the Supreme Court of the United States, and 
the courts of the several States in such matters and 
proceedings[: Provided, That for the first fifteen years 
following the establishment of the appellate court authorized 
by section 22A(a) of this Act, the United States Court of 
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit shall have jurisdiction to review 
by writ of certiorari all final decisions of the highest court 
of Guam from which a decision could be had. The Judicial 
Council of the Ninth Circuit shall submit reports to the 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the 
Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the House of 
Representatives at intervals of five years following the 
establishment of such appellate court as to whether it has 
developed sufficient institutional traditions to justify direct 
review by the Supreme Court of the United States from all such 
final decisions. The United States Court of Appeals for the 
Ninth Circuit shall have jurisdiction to promulgate rules 
necessary to carry out the provisions of this subsection.].
  Sec. 22C. (a) Prior to the establishment of the appellate 
court authorized by section 22A(a) of this Act, which is known 
as the Supreme Court of Guam, the District Court of Guam shall 
have such appellate jurisdiction over the local courts of Guam 
as the legislature may determine: Provided, That the 
legislature may not preclude the review of any judgment or 
order which involves the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the 
United States including this Act, or any authority exercised 
thereunder by an officer or agency of the Government of the 
United States, or the conformity of any law enacted by the 
legislature of Guam or of any orders or regulations issued or 
actions taken by the executive branch of the government of Guam 
with the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, 
including this Act, or any authority exercised thereunder by an 
officer or agency of the United States.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (d) Upon the establishment of the appellate court provided 
for in section 22A(a) of this Act, which is known as the 
Supreme Court of Guam, all appeals from the decisions of the 
local courts not previously taken must be [taken to the 
appellate court] taken to such appellate court. The 
establishment of that appellate court shall not result in the 
loss of jurisdiction of the appellate division of the district 
court over any appeal then pending in it. The rulings of the 
appellate division of the district court on such appeals may be 
reviewed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth 
Circuit and in the Supreme Court notwithstanding the 
establishment of the appellate court.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *