by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Hawaii District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi denied the Department of Defense's motion for voluntary remand and stay of the lawsuit surrounding the selection of the ancient village of Pagat for a live-firing training range. The DOD now intends to move to have the civil case dismissed.
During a hearing today in Hawaii, it was clear that the parties could not reach an agreement on the terms of remanding the case to the Navy for a period of 90 days to allow for further review of the siting of the live-fire training range.
As KUAM News initially reported, the Guam Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and We are Guahan only agreed to a delay in the case on the conditions that DOD allow full public participation in the review process and allow briefs be filed on the matter. The plaintiffs' Attorney Nicholas Yost told KUAM, "DOD refused to allow the full participation of the people of Guam in the studies that they are undertaking. Given that, we opposed the remand."
The judge after reviewing the supporting and opposing documents denied the federal government's motion without prejudice. Yost stated, "We are elated. If actions are to be taken affecting the people of Guam and their heritage, the people of Guam must be part of the process."
During today's hearing the feds indicated that if the voluntary remand was denied they will file a motion to dismiss as they contend there is a threshold issue regarding the finality of the agency decision in this matter. The motion must be filed no later than July 29 unless the defendants seek an extension. The plaintiffs were given until July 8 to file a brief should they oppose any extension while they have until July 15 to submit an opposing letter brief.
Judge Kobayashi will set a hearing on the motion to dismiss after that time.