Judiciary threatens litigation if DOA doesn't pay
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The Judicial Council passed a resolution in December 2010 authorizing the administrator of the courts to pursue legal action as allotments were coming in late and nearly caused a payless payday. While the Judiciary has been able to avert any litigation and payless paydays for its employees thus far, the third branch of government has put the Department of Administration on notice. The Judiciary of Guam sent a demand letter on March 19 threatening litigation if the DOA doesn't show them the money, to the tune of $3.5 million.
"Director [Benita] Manglona has a ministerial obligation under the law to transfer up to 4.9 percent of the revenues to come to us. We represent 4.9 percent of the budget, that's excluding tax refunds and all those other things, bond payments. These are actual appropriations," stated court policy, planning and communications director Joshua Tenorio. He says over the last few months, the courts have received 42-69 percent of the allotments due them. The Judiciary has consistently received less than what they are supposed to receive on a monthly basis and it's had an impact on operations.
He continued, "Not having these allotments transmitted to us on time what that means is that we're going to pay our obligations later. Our court appointed attorneys, fees to jurors, vendor payments those are all kinds of things that you'll see being impacted. I would also say that is a direct hindrance in the timeliness of cases coming through the court." On March 19 administrator of the courts, Perry Taitano, sent a letter to DOA director Benita Manglona demanding the remittance of $3.5 million by this Friday.
"Based on the tracking of the actual cash received that are published monthly by the director of Administration and director of Bureau of Budget, we believe that this money is there and that we're entitled to it to operate," Temorio stated.
Although the Judiciary has made threats to pursue litigation in the past, this time, it's clear the threats are over. Taitano attached with his demand letter, a draft of the lawsuit that will be filed if the money isn't paid. "We need to have the money based on the financial reports, the cash reports there is money and all we're asking for is that the judiciary be given the allotments and director Manglona just follow the law," he added.
Taitano met with Manglona late this afternoon to reconcile the numbers and to discuss the potential litigation. "We want to avoid going to court no matter what we want to avoid it," said Tenorio. "No matter what if after the evidence is presented and there is still large amounts owed to the judiciary then I would say that we would have no recourse than to go and file a case."
KUAM News spoke with DOA director Manglona who doesn't believe that the Judiciary is owed any money. Manglona says the numbers the courts have presented are not jiving with DOA's numbers. The director believes the Judiciary is basing their numbers on un-reconciled tracking numbers and that the courts are in fact not owed the $3.5 million.