Chamorro Land Trust Commission Declines To Comment On Federal Lawsuit

Federal Government challenges Guam Trust; says application process is discriminatory

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 6, 2017) – The Chamorro Land Trust Commission won’t speak publicly about a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Guam, challenging the Land Trust, because it is ongoing litigation.

The federal government on Sept. 29 filed suit, accusing the Land Trust of discriminating against applicants based on race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The Chamorro Land Trust, created by a 1975 Guam law, holds public land for the benefit of the island's indigenous Chamorros, who are allowed to apply for residential and agricultural leases of that property. 

"The provisions of the (Chamorro Land Trust Act) and the manner of their implementation by the Commission and its Administrative Director constitute discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act," states the lawsuit.

The Land Trust Commission held a briefing Friday morning to inform commissioners about the lawsuit and to state that the Office of the Attorney General of Guam will be representing them.

Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson said the commission is being sued in its official capacity, and not as individual members.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Orcutt said the office will respond to the complaint before an Oct. 20 deadline.

Barrett-Anderson said the commission members probably have questions about the lawsuit, but she asked that they refrain from discussing it until they meet in an executive session.

Executive sessions are not open to the public and are held to discuss legal or personnel matters, Guam law states.

Barrett-Anderson said the lawsuit isn’t a surprise and said it actually took longer than her office had expected.

The U.S. Department of Justice informed the AG’s office that it would file suit in March, she said.

“We’ve been prepared for this. We are preparing our answers and preparing to represent the government and the commission,” she said.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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