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Management team taking over Mental Health

by Janjeera Hail

Guam - District Court of Guam Judge Consuelo Marshal denied the request for receivership and instead appointed a management team for the Department of Mental Health. Until she issues her court order, it's still unclear just what that means.

Rather than approve the request to impose a receivership on Mental Health, this morning Judge Marshal announced she would be appointing a management team.  Court monitors Dr. James Kiffer and Attorney James Casey will take over for the agency, which has been struggling for almost a decade to comply with the court orders of a permanent injunction.

However, it's still unclear how the management team's role would differ from that of a receiver.

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Attorney Daniel Somerfleck requested in court today that in an organizational chart, the management team be given more authority than that of even the governor. "What powers she provides for them will really be the determination of what's the difference between a mgmt team and a receiver for example if she provides them all the powers that the receiver would be provided the difference would be in name," he said.

The judge spent the day meeting with Kiffer and Casey and hopes to issue a court order soon, specifically outlining the scope of the management team. 

Acting Governor Mike Cruz says Judge Marshal's decision was fair and reflected the best interest of the consumers. "This judge is very knowledgeable about this particular case," noted Cruz.  "She intimately knows the court monitors who are now the management team that have been appointed, and so I'm confident that she's looked at all of that and made a wise decision to be able to move this forward."

One of the hurdles the department faced was inconsistent leadership and a revolving door of directors.  But current director Dr. Elisabeth Cruz, who took over only last month after the resignation of Dr. David Shimizu, says she hopes the existing staff and the management team will work together successfully.

"I think she was fair I think the fact that she denied the motion for receivership I thought was in a good direction. The fact that she's appointed a third party management team is something that we had suggested. She's appointed the court monitors as the management team and we will work with them. We've worked with them before so I was pretty much pleased with the court hearing today," she said.

One reason Judge Marshal may have opted for a management team in lieu of receivership is to ensure she can still oversee a case she's been so entrenched with.  She's already planning receive a status report from the management team in three months.  Said Somerfleck, "Part of the concern the judge has is once you put the receiver in place the receiver takes all the control and authority and moves forward. I think perhaps the judge wants to keep some of her authority in place and have a little more give and take as this moves forward."

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