State/Local Funding

  • The Guam Judiciary is primarily a state funded system. 
  • The state pays for the appellate courts, the AOC and the salaries of judges, support staff and clerical staff and for trial court technology, operating expenses, local courthouses and equipment.
  • The judiciary also receives appropriations separate from court operations that funds the adult and juvenile drug courts, indigent defense and two staff persons in the Mental Health Court.  These appropriations are specific and cannot be comingle with court operations appropriations.
  • This year’s operations expenditures are $850,000 over budget.  If the courts do not receive additional funding, they will begin to reduce court hours by four hours weekly, commencing May 21, 2012 through the remainder of the fiscal year.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the Guam judicial system declined from $39.2 million in FY12 to $36.8 million in FY13. 
  • State general fund appropriations were reduced from $24.6 million to $23.6 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the Judiciary declined from 4.4% to 4.1%.
  • Over the past four years, fees have increased 50% and fines have increased 25%.
  • Over the past four years, technology spending has increased more than 100%.  
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay relatively the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch presents its budget directly to the Legislature without prior approval by the Executive Branch.
  • The Judicial Branch has the authority to move funds between budget line items.
  • The FY13 budget has funding to enable the courts to provide and enhance technology.  They expect to become fully automated for court users and the public by June, 2013.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years, the number of judges and court staff has remained the same.  The number of central office staff has been reduced by 10%.  Funding for trial court operating expenses has been increased by 10%.
  • This coming year, the number of judges will remain the same.  The number of trial court staff will decline by 10% and the number of central office staff will decline by 15%.  Spending on trial court operating expenses will increase by 10%.  In the coming year, Guam will continue to delay filling staff vacancies.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Guam courts have reduced hours of operation, had staff layoffs and have delayed filling vacancies in the clerk’s offices and in judicial support positions.  They have delayed jury trials.  These reductions have resulted in limited access to court services.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the courts have furloughed court staff.   In the coming year, they will reduce and freeze the salaries of judicial officers and will again furlough court staff.

Efficiency Measures:  The courts have created an electronic document management system and virtual self-help centers.  In the coming year, they will implement e-filing and enhanced case management system, electronic workflow and e-payment of fines and fees.  Law enforcement will be able to issue e-citations.  They will put into place a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to court records.  Additional automated modules include jury management, probation, marshals, family counseling, procurement, public guardian, financial and human resources.  The courts have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings, videoconferencing of arraignments and detention hearings for detained adults and juveniles and have implemented remote videoconferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency.

Restructuring:  The courts in Guam have expanded the jurisdiction of subordinate judicial officers, consolidated clerk management positions, and reallocated staff.  They have employed limited term employees (working full time to assist workload demands during the absences of National Guard active duty employees on deployment and medical leave due to PTSD an injury sustained.  Approximately 16% of staff, including one judicial officer, are with the National Guard.

Business Processes:  The courts have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings and use videoconferencing for first appearance of criminal defendants and delinquent juveniles.  In the coming year, they will implement a new caseflow management program, create a fine schedule for petty misdemeanors, and implement in-court updating for docketing and sentencing orders.

Centralization:  The courts have a centralized payable center and have centralized collections processing, traffic citation processing and jury qualification and summoning. 

The Courts in Guam are in a better position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.