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Back Local News AGO wants court to clarify role of GovGuam attorneys

AGO wants court to clarify role of GovGuam attorneys

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DESPITE a recent court decision affirming the Office of the Attorney General’s legal representation of GovGuam in the solid waste case, confusion among GovGuam lawyers still persists.

In a motion for clarification filed by Assistant Attorney General Kathy Fokas, the GovGuam lawyer said the court needs to clarify the July 1 order indicating that the Attorney General's Office is obligated to represent the Guam Solid Waste Authority, which is under receivership.

In her order, District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ruled that until the court turns over control and authority of GSWA from the federal receiver to the GSWA board of directors, the AGO shall take client instructions from the receiver and not from the board.

However, the controversy started when the governor’s legal counsel, Sandra C. Miller, filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the AGO to disclose all and any communications, including emails, between the AGO and the receiver as well as all communications between the AGO and the U.S. Attorney’s Office relating to the Layon condemnation case, the Consent Decree case, the closure of the Ordot Dump, and the payment of the judgment in the Layon land condemnation case.

“The Governor’s Office believes it is entitled to the information on the grounds that the documents and emails are the property and client files of the government of Guam and the governor of Guam,” Fokas stated in her motion.

However, the federal receiver has instructed the AGO not to produce the documents invoking its attorney-client privilege.

“Who holds the attorney/client privilege for purposes of determining whether the AGO’s litigation files in this case and the condemnation case may be disclosed to the Governor’s Office? From whom does the AGO take instructions, the Governor’s Office or the Guam Solid Waste Authority?” the Assistant Attorney General asked.

The Governor’s Office claims to have discharged the AGO but the court recently rejected the motion of Cabot Mantanona, the private law firm hired by Adelup, to represent GovGuam in the 11-year-old solid waste case.

Because the AGO remains as counsel of record, the Governor’s Office and the Cabot, Calvo, and Arriola law firms have accused the AGO of violating the “ethical obligation” to withdraw.

“Unless these clarifications are made, the AGO cannot continue its work to bring about the completion of the consent decree projects in this case as ordered by this Court without subjecting itself to frivolous ethics complaints being threatened against it,” Fokas said.

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