Judiciary releases latest advisory on court operations

Judiciary of Guam (file photo)

To ensure the protection of the public’s health and safety, and the community’s access to justice amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Guam continues to issue administrative orders consistent with implementing judicial administration best practices in times of crisis.

The court recognizes that it must expand its services to the extent possible, keeping at the forefront the need to protect the health and safety of court employees, patrons, and the general public. With these considerations in mind, the court issues the ELEVENTH UPDATED ORDER, ADM20-413, regarding court operations.

To the extent ADM20-413 conflicts with any other existing administrative order of the court, ADM20-413 shall prevail.

Under ADM20-413, the Supreme Court of Guam and Superior Court of Guam will continue to be open to conduct court business, but all court facilities will remain closed to the general public except under limited circumstances including:

= Beginning October 12, the Guam Judicial Center in Hagåtña will open to the public for business transactions from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday – without the requirement of having a pre-scheduled appointment. The Northern Court Satellite in Dededo continues to remain open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Both facilities are open for a limited set of transactions, namely, the payment of traffic citations; payment of case-related obligations, including bail, restitution, and fines and fees; and requests for traffic and court clearances.

= Beginning October 19, criminal jury trials already underway prior to the Governor’s stay-at-home directive in August, may resume at the discretion of the judge presiding over the trial. Beginning October 26, all other criminal misdemeanor jury trials may resume upon the approval of the Presiding Judge. All other criminal felony and civil jury trials not previously underway, may resume on December 1 upon the approval of the Presiding Judge. All trials shall adhere to DPHSS social distancing requirements.

= In-person essential appointments with the Probation Services Division and the Client Services and Family Counseling Division, will continue.

= The court will continue to limit in-person contact as much as possible by using available technologies to reasonably ensure the health and safety of all participants, however, authorized in-person proceedings in essential and non-essential matters that cannot be resolved remotely will be allowed. In-person proceedings shall adhere to DPHSS social distancing guidelines.

= No activities or proceedings relative to grand juries and in-person orientation of new jurors shall take place before October 19.

= The court continues to remain open for filing purposes. Instead of in-person contact, filings will be accepted by the following methods:

a. E-filing

b. If e-filing is unavailable, pleadings may be filed by email to the respective
Clerk’s Office. The email address for Supreme Court filings is
efile@guamsupremecourt.com. There are new email addresses for Superior
Court filings which are:
i. Criminal cases – efilecriminal@guamcourts.org
ii. Juvenile cases – efilejuvenile@guamcourts.org
iii. Small Claims cases – efilesmallclaims@guamcourts.org
iv. Child Support cases – efilechildsupport@guamcourts.org
v. Civil, Probate, Domestic, Special Proceedings, and all other cases –

c. Facsimile
d. Postal mail
e. Designated drop boxes at the Judiciary

= Any filing that requires payment of a filing fee should be paid online if available. Filing fees will no longer be deferred after October 5, 2020. Clerk’s Office personnel will be available by telephone to answer questions regarding filing methods and fees.

= Members of the public or media who would like to access court proceedings should contact the court’s Public Information Officer, Kristina (Tina) Blaz, by email at kblaz@guamcourts.org.

Click below for the full language of ADM20-413.

ADM20-413 Eleventh Updated Order re Court Operations under COVID-19