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By Stephanie Godlewski

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 27) – The latest issues on criminal law, sentencing alternatives and how ethics and technology play out in the court system are among the topics being discussed in the Pacific Judiciary Council Conference on Guam this week.

Judges, justices, and lawyers from Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Philippines and the region have gathered at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa to attend the legal conference.

Supreme Court of Guam Associate Justice and chairman of the conference, Robert Torres, said the event is intended to increase the communication among the judiciaries of the Pacific Islands.

"It's especially important for us here because we have so many migrants, for example, from the Federated States of Micronesia who come to Guam," Torres said. "So it's important to interact with the judges whose citizens come to Guam, reside here and understand a bit about their culture, understand the problems that face them in their courts and the problems we face in our courts with people from their jurisdictions."

The conference covered a variety of topics, a number of which related to technology and how it has and is affecting court cases. Torres said the conference also aims to help the courts stay on the "cutting edge" of their field to better serve their people.

"This helps us understand some of the issues that confront (court systems) and what they have to be concerned about. The people benefit from a better informed judiciary, a better educated judiciary and I think we can address some of the problems we're going to encounter in the next few years," Torres said.

Yesterday's keynote speaker, Consuelo Marshall, a senior judge for the U.S. District Court, District of California Central, also touched on the need for continuing education, especially in the area of science.

"We are getting in our courts more cases on science, and so judges really do need more education on science," Marshall said.

Other keynote speakers will address conference attendees throughout the week. Speakers include Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

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