Justices review trial court's jurisdiction
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Supreme Court justices are reviewing arguments on whether the Superior Court has jurisdiction over legislative subpoenas. The Guam Memorial Hospital contends the trial court does and should have entertained its motion to quash a legislative subpoena issued several months ago by the Legislature's Health Committee. The Superior Court dismissed the motion saying it doesn't have jurisdiction and the powers to subpoena rest with the Legislature.
GMH legal counsel Tom Fisher argues the issue is not moot just because the hospital complied with the subpoena. "It hasn't been rendered moot because if it was improper for the Superior Court to decline jurisdiction and the hospital complied with the amended subpoena if that were improper then the hospital is entitled to the return of those documents," he explained.
"Essentially," he added, "it was a resolution under threat - we had to comply. If we didn't comply we were subject to certain sanctions by the legislature which brings around to the court's other point, whether or not there is an additional remedy. The remedies that provided in Guam statute are dual."
The Legislature has determined that the hospital is in full compliance with turning over a variety of documents relative to physicians who had their hospital privileges revoked or suspended. Legislative legal counsel Therese Terlaje told KUAM News, "The lack of jurisdiction in the Superior Court is by design. It's by design of the Constitution. They don't give a remedy at that stage, in a motion to quash because of the speech and debate, the constitution, the Organic Act the laws of Guam do not provide a remedy at that proceeding because that's by design."
Justices took the arguments under advisement and will issue an opinion at a later time.