Klitzkie proposes initiative negating declaratory judgment power from Supreme Court

by Zita Taitano, KUAM News
Thursday, May 13, 2004

While the Legislature voted to enter a brief in Governor Felix Camacho's request for declaratory judgment today, Senator Robert Klitzkie (R) introduced a measure to kill the Guam Supreme Court's ability to issue declaratory judgments. Bill 298 repeals public law that allows the Governor and Legislature to seek declaratory judgments from the Guam Supreme Court.

"In our system cases come before trial courts and then are appealed to appellate courts, which is our Supreme Court. We skipped the first step, therefore I think there's a tendency for issues to not be properly framed and vigorously advocated by parties who have real interests in the outcome of that particular case," he surmised. "I think we'd be much better of if we didn't have Declaratory Judgments by our Supreme Court exercising its original jurisdiction."

Senator Klitzkie says Guam is the only United States jurisdiction that allows declaratory judgments, although several do allow for advisory opinions (the difference is advisory opinions are not binding, while declaratory judgments are). While the Republican senator admits Guam's declaratory judgment process expedites the judicial process, he says sometimes quicker is the enemy of better.

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