Guam – Superior Court Judge Vern Perez voluntarily recused himself from consideration of the Gutierrez election challenge this morning [Wednesday].
Last month, the Gutierrez-Aguon team filed nearly identical lawsuits in both Superior and District Courts. Today in Superior Court the first hearing in the case was scheduled. It was “standing room” only crowd inside the courtroom. But there was no hearing on the complaint.
Instead, Judge Perez voluntarily recused himself from consideration of the case. The court session was over within 10 minutes.
Before the Judge entered the Courtroom, Gutierrez’s Attorney David Lujan set the tone, joking to the packed crowd: “We’re all here on a case that does not exist anymore [in Superior Court].”
That’s because opposing counsel Cesar Cabot, who represents the Guam Election Commission, filed a “Notice of Removal” yesterday. Cabot told PNC News that the Notice “automatically” removes the lawsuit from Superior Court. He said the same thing this morning before Judge Perez.
In addition, yesterday, [Tuesday], Attorney David Lujan also filed a “Statement of Objection” calling on Jude Perez to recuse himself.
But the Judge this morning did not directly rule on either of those motions. He merely referred to the Lujan recusal motion, saying he is “not contesting” any of the potential conflicts mentioned.
In his “Statement of Objection,” Lujan wrote that Judge Perez’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned” because he was appointed by Republican Governor Felix Camacho and because the Judge’s family members actively campaigned for the GOP team of Calvo-Tenorio.
Judge Perez this morning said he could add a few more family connections of his own that might lead to questions about his impartiality, but said that would be unnecessary. It was apparent that Judge Perez had planned on recusing himself anyway.
The Judge concluded: “Therefore I voluntarily recuse myself from this hearing.”
GEC Attorney Cabot interjected that his Notice of Removal “automatically” requires the case be heard in District Court, but Judge Perez responded”I will not address that.”