Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Guam Courthouse, Agaña
Built during Spanish Administration
When I was driving an old aunt (born in 1900) around Hagåtña sometime in the 1980s, I practiced my Chamorro and asked her what this and that place was in the city.  When I pointed to the modern-day courthouse and asked her, "Håfa ayo na guma'?",  she responded, "I Tribunåt."  She was referring to the one she knew as a child, built under the Spanish flag, north of the Plaza de España (where Skinner Plaza is now).  In Spanish, the word is "tribunal," which, as you guessed, is "tribunal" in English!

When the Americans took over Guam in 1898 and truly set up shop the following year, they kept much of the Spanish government system and laws in place.  Slowly, things changed to a more American style administration.

In 1908, the highest court on Guam was the Court of Appeals.  It was headed by Pedro M. Duarte.  He was a Spaniard and former official under that administration.  But he had married a Chamorro mestiza, Maria Victoria Anderson Millinchamp, so he remained on Guam under the U.S. flag and served in several government capacities.

Assisting him in the Court of Appeals were Chamorro manakkilo' (elite) who had also served in the Spanish colonial government.  The Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals were Gregorio Perez and Jose Torres.  Two more were "Supplementary Associate Justices," Joaquin Perez and Jose Taitano.

The clerk of courts was Manuel Sablan. 

The Island Court was headed by a Filipino, Pancracio Palting, exiled to Guam in 1901 from Ilocos Norte as a Filipino nationalist.

The Island Attorney, in charge of prosecuting cases on behalf of the government, was Tomas Anderson Calvo, the great-grandfather of the present Governor of Guam, Eddie B. Calvo.

There was also a Circuit Judge, Luis Torres, and his secretary Nicolas Lazaro, who were responsible for going into the rural villages to hear cases.

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