Guam – Former Chief Justice of the Guam Supreme Court Robert Torres released the following statement reviewing his term in office.
An Open Letter from Chief Justice Robert J. Torres
During these final hours of my term as Chief Justice of the Guam Supreme Court, I reflect upon the many accomplishments of the past three years and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to my colleagues, the employees of the Judiciary of Guam and our community partners for your contributions towards the success of all of our endeavors.
To my Judicial Colleagues,
It has been an honor and a privilege to share custodial responsibility for a great institution with you during my term as Chief Justice. As Justices and Judges we are passionately dedicated to administering justice according to law equally for all our people and the performance of your judicial duties has increased public trust and confidence in the Judiciary. I owe you an uimmense debt of gratitude for your cooperation and contributions and I look forward to our continued collegial relationship.
To the Employees of the Judiciary of Guam,
John Donne wrote in his Meditation XVII: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” No truer statement can be used to describe the interaction and interdependence of our court family as we implemented many of the programs and policies that perhaps began as the simple question, “Can we…?”
Can we contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice? Can we modernize the technology of the court? Can we obtain additional funding for a new Case Management System? Can we improve Access to Justice for all? The short and simple answer to all of these questions was a resounding “yes” and what started as a simple question was set in motion by you — the hardworking individuals who took ownership of an idea that resulted in new programs, including the new DWI and Mental Health therapeutic courts, the opening of the Guam Police Forensic Crime Lab and the Northern Court Satellite, the establishment of Self-Represented Litigant Kiosks, an integrated Criminal Justice Information System, a concrete Master Facilities Plan and, most recently, enough federal funding to realize a complete CMS. None of these new programs could have been realized without all of your dedication and commitment. For that, I thank you.
Recognizing that public employment in the court is a public trust with significant responsibility, you still found time to become involved in historical, educational, cultural, charitable, athletic and civic activities such as Law Week, the Liberation Parade, Play by the Rules, Children at Risk, the VARO and Inafa Maolek bed races and numerous volleyball, basketball and softball leagues. Your participation in the community has made the legal system less intimidating to the public and has taught our young people the real meaning and great value of our Judiciary. You have succeeded both in and on the courts.
To Our Community Partners,
We are fortunate to have cultivated with you, our community partners, an extremely cooperative relationship, which has enabled the Judiciary of Guam to remain open and transparent with greater public involvement in the justice system. The media has willingly stepped forward to increase the public’s understanding of the role of the judiciary on the island and the operation of the court system while respecting the delicate ethical boundaries of judges refraining from public comments on pending or impending cases that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair fairness.
We have relied on you to assist us in getting information about our community outreach programs and other activities at the court house and beyond, as we continued to demystify the judicial process and enlarge the reach of the justice system to those who may have previously been denied access. As the Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Guam, I spearheaded the project to improve the court’s Case Management System to include the capability for the public to access active cases on-line. With the influx of the additional $3.7 million recently awarded from the Department of Interior, what started as a pipe dream will soon be a reality. When fully implemented, our new and improved case management system will further ensure that doors to justice remain open to all, 24/7. For this, I thank you and appreciate your continued cooperation and relationship with the Judiciary.
At the inception of my three year term, I had an ambitious agenda to improve access to justice for all with a focus on self represented litigants, technological innovations, facilities development and community participation and outreach. Three Law Week celebrations and two ABA national awards later, I find myself watching the last grains of sand slip quickly through the hour glass and wonder how time ran away. Although Guam law prohibits me from serving consecutive terms as Chief Justice, I am confident that in the upcoming months and years more improvements to the courts will be realized and I thank all of you for your assistance, dedication and numerous contributions which helped make me a more effective leader of the Judiciary of Guam.
Si Yu’us Ma’ase