Guam – The Guam Supreme Court Saturday denied a petition by the Gutierrez-Aguon team to overturn the results of the 2010 Gubernatorial election. The decision is a victory for the Calvo-Tenorio team and it means that the scheduled Monday swearing in ceremony will be held as scheduled without delay.
The decision was signed by Justice Pro Tempore Miguel Demapan, Associate Justice Katherine Maraman and Chief Justice Robert Torres.
In their opinion, they concluded that Gutierrez-Aguon “failed to allege sufficient grounds for invalidating the certification of the election results and issuance of the certification of election.”
The Justices emphasized the importance of the public interest in maintaining the stability of government in the absence of misconduct or bad faith> Despite questions surrounding the validity of the appointments of the GEC Board members, they Justices concluded that the actions of the GEC Board members were not in bad faith and did not amount to misconduct.
They write that “Gutierrez-Aguon’s attempt to equate the continued service of GEC members with bad faith misunderstands the de fact officer doctrine, which is founded on the societal need for stability arising from confidence in the acts of government where there is an issue as to the “legal qualification of a person holding office.”
The Public interest,” they write, ” is not satisfied when government boards and entities are not able to function as properly imagined.”
Therefore, “the acts of the GEC, comprised of members acting under color of authority. openly and within the scope of the substantive authority of the GEC, will not be invalidated.”
Lawyers for Gutierrez-Aguon had argued that the Certification result taken by the Guam Election Commission [GEc] was “without any legal force or effect” because all 7 GEC members had not been validly appointed when the election certification vote was taken on November 6th following the machine recount of the November 2ed gubernatorial vote.
However the Justices concluded that “even if defects in the appointment of the members of the Guam Election Commission rendered them de facto rather than de jure members, the actions they took to certify the election and issue certificates of election were taken pursuant to the color of law.”
As a result they found that “these actions were within the scope of the authority of the GEC and were not ultra virus [ultra vires is a Latin phrase meaning “beyond the powers”].
The Justices decided that the certification vote “had legal validity that cannot be attacked collaterally via the writ proceeding. Accordingly the Petition is DENIED.”