Chief Judge prohibits US Attorney from entering Guam District Court

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U.S. District Court (PNC News file photo)

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has barred U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson from entering the U.S. District Court on Guam.

In a letter to Federal Public Defender John Gorman, the chief judge said Anderson is prohibited from entering the District Court of Guam pursuant to General Order 20-0012 which she recently issued pertaining to the district court’s coronavirus precautions.

“Your request to bar Mr. Anderson’s entry into the federal courthouse is granted,” the chief judge said.

She was referring to an email sent by Gorman asking the chief judge to ban the U.S. Attorney and his staff from the Guam federal courthouse.

In his email, Gorman writes that he has been “troubled” in recent weeks by what he called the U.S. Attorney’s “cavalier attitude” towards the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr seeking Anderson’s removal from office because he refused to comply with the quarantine order after arriving at the Guam International Airport Saturday.

In his email to the Chief Judge, Gorman notes that on March 12 he asked the District Court to take immediate and reasonable steps to deal with the coronavirus and he was “shocked” when the U.S. Attorney’s office replied that it was “business as usual” and no protective or proactive measures were needed.

In her response to Gorman, the chief judge stated that she has already set rules for who may enter District Court including a ban on persons who have traveled outside the island of Guam within the previous 14 days.

“I am assuming you are correct that Mr. Anderson recently returned from vacation in Thailand. Based on Mr. Anderson’s email response to you, he did not deny your assertion. Therefore, he is prohibited from entering the District Court of Guam pursuant to General Order 20-0012. Your request to bar Mr. Anderson’s entry into the federal courthouse is granted,” the chief judge said.

She added: “You have also requested that I ban the U.S. Attorney’s Office staff from entering the courthouse, indefinitely. That request is denied at this time. Each request will be decided on a case-by-case basis. This order applies to everyone. There are no exceptions whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if you are a judge, a United States Attorney, a defense lawyer, or any member of the public, you are subject to obeying the General Order issued from this court.”

In fact, the chief judge said two of her employees traveled outside Guam within the previous 14 days and these two employees are quarantined at their home pursuant to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s Executive Order No. 2020-04 and Joint Information Center Release No. 5.

In addition, the chief judge said these two employees are banned from the District Court of Guam pursuant to her General Order 20-0012.

In her letter to Gorman, the chief judge wrote: “Your strong advocacy to protect the health and safety of your clients, the judges and the federal courthouse staff, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys, private attorneys, your staff and yourself, the tenants of the courthouse and the general public is quite admirable. During these uncertain and stressful times for our family, our court, our island, and the world, we are faced with many difficult decisions. I will do my best to make decisions that protect those who enter the courthouse while continuing to fulfill our constitutional duties.”

She added: “This court is grateful for your hard work and dedication to the rule of law and to the safety of all those who may be required to appear at the District Court during this COVID-19 outbreak.”

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