GUAM JUDGES ASKED TO STEP DOWN IN BOND CASE

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 4) - Two of the three justices selected to hear the governor's bond case should disqualify themselves, according to Attorney General Douglas Moylan.

The Supreme Court of Guam has been asked to determine whether Gov. Felix Camacho has the authority to borrow $246 million on the bond market or whether the island already has exceeded its legal debt limit, as stated by the attorney general.

Chief Justice Philip Carbullido and justices pro-tem Benjamin Cruz and Richard Benson held the first hearing on the case Wednesday, and said any requests to recuse justices were due by 5 p.m. yesterday.

The attorney general yesterday filed a request, asking Carbullido and Cruz to disqualify themselves because of alleged financial interest in the outcome of the case. According to Guam law, the justices must file a response to the request or agree to step down. The request does not mention Benson, who is a justice from the Federated States of Micronesia.

According to the attorney general, Cruz is not impartial because the attorney general's office indicted Cruz's domestic partner, Johnny Applegate.

Applegate was arrested in 2000 in connection with injuring a man while driving under the influence. There is an outstanding arrest warrant in the case, according to Moylan.

As evidence of their relationship, the attorney general attached a photocopy of a 1995 magazine which features Cruz and Applegate on its cover.

It is not known whether the relationship continues, according to the attorney general.

The attorney general's request states Cruz also has stated a personal bias against Moylan.

Cruz, during a June 2002 television interview, spoke against Moylan and accused him of alleged improper conduct during his election campaign, the request states. Moylan is the island's first elected attorney general.

During the interview, Cruz commented on a divorce case involving Moylan in which Moylan "de-filed" the case. Tapes were erased in the process, and all documents were returned to the parties.

Cruz described it as preferential treatment, saying he does not know of another case that had been de-filed.

Alleged financial interests

Carbullido, as a government employee, and Cruz, who receives a pension, have an interest in whether the government has enough money to pay them, according to the attorney general.

Cruz also is a member of the government of Guam Retirement Fund, which could fail if the government does not provide money to the fund, according to Moylan.

Carbullido's wife, who recently retired from the Department of Education, cannot receive her retirement checks until the department makes good on its debt to the Retirement Fund, according to Moylan.

The bond money, if approved, would provide $10.1 million to pay DOE's retirement debt, according to the request.

Carbullido, during Wednesday's hearing, noted his wife's retirement but said he does not believe it creates a conflict.

The court historically has used retired justices, Superior Court of Guam judges, off-island judges and justices, and retired judges to fill in if there are recusals.

There also is a list of local attorneys who can serve as pro-tem justices, but only after other options have been exhausted, according to the Supreme Court clerk's office.

July 4, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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