Gutierrez-Aguon take election challenge to Supreme Court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Gutierrez-Aguon take election challenge to Supreme Court

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Democratic gubernatorial team of former Governor Carl Gutierrez and Senator Frank Aguon Junior have brought their election challenge before the Guam Supreme Court. On Tuesday evening, Gutierrez and Aguon's attorney, David Lujan, filed a petition for writ of mandamus and an emergency motion to expedite the briefing schedule and oral arguments.

The petitioners have asked Guam's high court to vacate and expunge the Guam Election Commission board of directors' action to certify the results of the gubernatorial election and cancel, invalidate and annul the certificates of election signed by board members Joseph Mesa, Martha Ruth, John Taitano and Robert Cruz. They've also asked the court to stop the commission board from engaging in further action to certify the election results of the Decision 2010 General Election. 

Specifically, Attorney Lujan argues that all seven board members of the Commission were not appointed in compliance with Guam law.  He contends that because they were "unlawfully appointed" the members actions are null and void and they must be restrained from taking any further action.

Republican board member Joseph Mesa was appointed on June 18, 2007. Court documents state that Mesa's term expired on September 2, 2008 and there is no evidence in GEC files that the Republican party re-nominated him to remain on the board.  Republican board member Martha Ruth was appointed to a two-year term on October 27, 2008. The petitioners contend her term expired in October of this year before the General Election.

Republican and board chairman John Taitano was nominated in June of last year and appointed by the acting governor a month later. It's alleged that the GEC doesn't have a duly passed resolution from the Republican Party of Guam showing the party's recommendation of Taitano. Democrat board member Alice Taijeron was nominated in July 2009 and was appointed by the governor in October of last year to sit for a new two year term.

The petitioners argue that there is no evidence of a duly passed resolution of the Democratic Party of Guam showing their recommendation of Taijeron. The same argument was applied to Democrat board member John Terlaje who was re-nominated on July 27, 2009.  Democrat board member and Gutierrez-Aguon gubernatorial campaign committee member, Joshua Tenorio, was reappointed to the board on October 16, 2009 but the petitioners contend his nomination also didn't receive a duly passed resolution from the Democratic Party.

As for the seventh board member, independent Robert Cruz, his term expired on October 9, 2009.  It's alleged the GEC board members have not voted to reselect and reappoint Cruz to sit on the board.

Attorney Lujan has taken issue with the board members not having a "duly passed resolution" from their respective political parties as required by statute, 3 GCA Subsection 2101(a).  While GEC Legal Counsel Cesar Cabot has said that the appointments are protected by Guam law that states they may remain in their position for 90 days plus three legislative days after the expiration of their term, Attorney Lujan argues that that provision only applies to individuals whose appointment to office requires legislative confirmation which he contends would not apply to members Ruth, Mesa and Cruz.

Gutierrez and Aguon have asked the Guam Supreme Court to take action on their request immediately calling it an emergency situation because "if such action remains undisturbed without intervention by the court, the unlawful swearing in to office of the Republican candidates would occur on January 3, 2011."

The Guam Election Commission board meanwhile is scheduled to meet this afternoon when Executive Director John Blas is expected to present his findings on how many board members' terms have expired.

The petition to Guam's high court comes as the GEC and Eddie Calvo and Ray Tenorio have filed motions to dismiss the election challenges filed in the Superior and District Courts.

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