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12 23Sun10262014

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Adelup lawyers chided

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‘Step into OAG shoes, comply with the court’

RESPONDING to a special report regarding the court-appointed solid waste receiver’s access to legal counsel, the federal government reminded the government of Guam of several court orders directing the solid waste consent decree parties to “use best efforts to assist the receiver in the performance of its duties.”

Robert Mullaney, of the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section, said with the full legal substitution, the law firm of Cabot Mantanona LLP should step into the shoes of the Office of the Attorney General and comply with the court’s order to assist with the condemnation actions and help out the Guam Solid Waste Authority.

The federal representative said it shares the receiver’s concern regarding a prompt resolution to the legal issues and supports the receiver’s efforts to obtain legal counsel.

Mullaney proposed the needs of the court to determine that the substitution-of-counsel order does not preclude the OAG from assisting the Guam Solid Waste Authority and the receiver on condemnation actions, request for proposal review, adverse personnel actions and the Lagu Sanitation settlement, or order GovGuam to provide legal services to the Guam Solid Waste Authority and the receiver through the Cabot Mantanona law firm or by means of other outside counsel to be selected by the receiver.

Land acquisition

Mullaney mentioned in his response the July 2013 and November 2013 orders wherein the court specifically required Sandra Miller, the chief legal counsel of the governor’s office, to work closely with the receiver to determine who would assist the receiver in completing the acquisition of land needed for the Ordot Dump closure.

He said that if the court interprets the substitution of counsel was strictly limited to the condemnation actions, the court can permit the OAG to continue its assistance to the Guam Solid Waste Authority in acquiring the remaining parcels of land.

“In fact, the governor’s office should have no valid reason to object to the OAG representing the autonomous agency in an action within the autonomous agency’s jurisdiction,” Mullaney said.

No conflict

The federal representative also reiterated that GovGuam’s allegation of a conflict of interest with OAG representation is unsubstantiated.

“The court did not find that the OAG had a conflict of interest. Rather, it determined that there had been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship between the OAG and the governor’s office,” Mullaney stressed.

Mullaney added the receiver is not only authorized to hire counsel but is also well situated to best evaluate when legal assistance is warranted.

“If the court determines that the substitution-of-counsel order does not apply to the review of the RFP, the OAG could continue its assistance to the Guam Solid Waste Authority,” he said.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood scheduled a hearing on Feb. 27 to discuss the issue raised by the receiver, who said that it had been unsuccessful in obtaining the assistance of the governor’s office and the law firm of Cabot Mantanona in certain areas necessary for compliance with the consent decree after the court made the legal substitution in October 2013.

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