The decision in the Superior Court of Guam to dismiss the felony charge against Gerald Wayne Cruz II in the Yigo "pet killing" case points out how disconnected the judicial system of Guam is from the people of Guam. Beyond the obvious crime here, shooting a pet, which for many people – myself included with three dogs and two cats; referred to as the fur babies – are loved as a member of their family, there are other community risks associated with this crime that were just as bad and apparently disregarded during the deliberations in this case.
For the judicial system to overlook the fact that a person is discharging firearms around homes with people in them as a serious crime, is even worse. What if a bullet meant for a pet goes astray and goes through the door of the house – killing a child?
Not punishing the person who discharged the firearm at a pet, or in the direction of a residence, is a crime in and of itself.
I wish we had the ability to file charges against Judge Michael Bordallo for "gross negligence" or "reckless endangerment," because his ruling establishes a precedent that it is OK to shoot people's pets as long as you kill them on the first shot, and that it's OK to shoot a gun in the direction of someone's house, as long as you "only" kill their pet, and kill it with the first shot.
A growing disconnect
For years now there has been a growing disconnect between judges and those of us who live in the real world that has been magnified by Judge Bordallo's "pet killing" decision. Acknowledging that disconnects exist between the "real world" people live in, and the "legal world" judges live in, is the only way I can even begin to wrap my head around what happened in the Guam YTK decision.
Think about it. In that case, where several Guam judges decided that even though Guam YTK did not build the fisheries plant it was obligated contractually to build – or pay rent, or pay GRT or income taxes, and did not get an extension to the lease beyond the five-year legal term – the taxpayers of Guam owe the owners 45 years of profits on a plant that never processed a single fish.
It was not a long stretch for me to get from the decision to dismiss the charges on the pet killings to the absurdity of the decisions leading to awarding nearly $17 million to Guam YTK. I just can't wait to see the judicial reasoning behind the pending decision on the $20 million "money for nothing" lawsuit against the government of Guam for not issuing the company a new contract to replace the original contract voided by the Supreme Court of Guam that is still pending in the Superior – really? – Court of Guam.
Almost no say in selections
The problem is that the public has almost no say in the selection of judges.
Judges are appointed in deals made behind closed doors; appointees then have a public hearing with little or no publicity beyond the legal minimum. The confirmation hearings for judges are often scheduled during the day, when most people have to be at work.
After judges are confirmed to the bench, there are no central records where citizens can easily go to look at judicial decisions the way we can look at how senators vote on different bills before the Legislature.
The "pet killing" decision should serve as a wakeup call for citizens that we need to spend more time looking at the decisions the judges make on our behalf. If the gap between the "real world" we live in and the fictional "legal world" judges live in gets wider, it won't be long before criminals will have all the rights, and law-abiding citizens will have none.
Every election voters are given an opportunity to "retain" judges or not. Maybe the time has come for us to begin exercising our right not to retain judges who are so out of touch with the real world that they become a danger to our lives, our liberties and our ability to pursue happiness.
Ken Leon-Guerrero is the spokesman for Guam Citizens for Public Accountability. He can be contacted at www.guamc4pa.org.