Guam – The Chief Justice of Guam’s Supreme Court painted a bleak picture of the fiscal challenges facing the Guam Judiciary in the annual State of the Judiciary speech at the Legislative Session Hall this morning [Tuesday].
Chief Justice Phillip Carbullido called the State of the Judiciary “challenged,” saying the island’s court system has entered “a time of fiscal crisis.”
Referring to what he called the island’s “grim economic reality,” Carbullido said the Judiciary is, on average, receiving only 80% of the cash allotments that are due to the Courts as provided for in the budget law.
He said the Courts are faced with the prospect of implementing a 32 hour work week and delaying implementation of the law enforcement 3rd increment pay adjustment. “Unless something significant happens in the coming weeks,” the Chief Justice said those measures “will be implemented as early as July.”
Carbullido also said that despite austerity measures which have been in place since early 2009, the island’s Court system will still be “a half million dollars in the red,” by the end of this year, even if it gets 100% of its allotted funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“This recession has touched every corner of private and public life,” said Carbullido. And he warned of the adverse effects that an underfunded Judiciary has on public safety.
“The cruel irony,” said the Chief Justice, “is that in tough economic times, we in judiciary face an every increasing work load. Therefore further reducing services can not be the answer.. Nothing compares to the harmful impact the current situation has to our citizens continued access to justice.”
Justice Carbullido also re-newed a proposal he made years ago, and that is amending the Organic Act to ensure that a permanent source of funding is guaranteed.