Guam - With dwindling resources and budget cuts throughout the government, members of the law profession took part in a training session today regarding a viable alternative to setting disputes in the court system. Members of the Judiciary of Guam along with stakeholders and participants from Palau, the FSM, American Samoa and Guam took part in learning about alternative dispute resolution techniques as part of the Supreme Court, District Court and Department of the Interior's five-day mediation training.

Chief Justice of Guam F. Philip Carbullido says he hopes the training will reestablish the court's mediation program. He told KUAM News, "Within our Guam judiciary, we're going to have mediation as an alternative as to how to resolve disputes, and we're hoping to do that so number one, that we can have more timely decisions; and number two, so we can process the cases more quickly."

District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood says both courts share the same lawyers and although issues may be different, the solution is always coming to some kind of resolution. She hopes the establishment of a court-annexed ADR program will do just that. "I think the biggest challenge right now is having certification of mediators, so this particular program will enable mediators to be certified for the first time here on Guam in terms of a court sponsored approach," she explained.

Members from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco conducted the training session on topics from skills and attributes of a mediator to its benefits in the court system. DOI assistant secretary for insular affairs Tony Babauta says his interest in ADR stems back years ago after attending similar training in California. He hopes framework is established in order to alleviate the courts' caseloads, adding, "In the case of Guam with the ongoing military buildup and the amount of contractors that are going to come in, the amount of federal contracts, other contracts, subcontracts, if we're able to resolve any disputes over those contracts and alternative fashion rather than running everything through the courts, we believe it will be good business for everyone."

Carbullido says the training was costly to put together but in the long-run should be cost-effective to both the courts and parties involved. At the end of the five-day training event, individuals will be certified and qualified to serve as mediators both in the local and federal courts, once the courts develop their respective programs.