District Court of Guam

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District Court of Guam
Fanhusgayan Destriton Guåhån  (Chamorro)
(D. Guam)
District Court of Guam seal.gif
LocationHagåtña, Guam
Appeals toNinth Circuit
AuthorityArticle IV tribunal
Created byGuam Organic Act of 1950
48 U.S.C. §§ 14241424c
Composition methodPresidential nomination
with Senate advice and consent
Judge term length10 years
Chief JudgeFrances Tydingco-Gatewood

The District Court of Guam[1] (in case citations, D. Guam) is a United States territorial court with jurisdiction over the United States territory of Guam. It sits in the capital, Hagåtña. Appeals of the court's decisions are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It is not an Article III court, and therefore its judges do not have life tenure.[2]


Courthouse in Hagåtña

The District Court of Guam was established in 1950 by the Guam Organic Act to have the same jurisdiction as a United States district court.[1] Under Section 22(a) of the Guam Organic Act, the Court was granted:

  • in all causes arising under the laws of the United States, the jurisdiction of a district court of the United States as such court is defined in section 451 of title 28, United States Code;
  • original jurisdiction in all other causes in Guam, jurisdiction over which has not been transferred by the legislature to other court or courts established by it, and;
  • such appellate jurisdiction as the legislature may determine.

In 1951, the Guam Legislature created Commissioners' Courts, the Police Court, and the Island Court, decisions from which were appealable to the District Court. In 1974, the Legislature consolidated these courts into the Guam Superior Court. The legislature also created a Guam Supreme Court to hear appeals from the Superior Court. However, the Ninth Circuit found in 1976 that the appellate jurisdiction of the District Court could not be transferred without authorization by Congress, and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld this ruling in a 5-4 decision in 1977. Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote the dissenting opinion, in which he argued that Congress had plainly authorized the enactment of the challenged legislation.[3] Further legislation divested the District Court's appellate jurisdiction over local matters in 1994.[4]

The District Court was housed in the Guam Congress Building from 1950 to 1968, in the Courthouse of Guam from 1968 to 1978, in the Pacific News Building from 1978 to 2000, and since then in the United States Courthouse Building.[4]

Current judge[edit]

As of August 8, 2006:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
6 Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood Hagåtña 1958 2006–present 2006–present G.W. Bush

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Paul D. Shriver GU 1951–1959 1951–1959 Truman
2 Eugene R. Gilmartin GU 1959–1961 1959–1961 Eisenhower
3 Paul D. Shriver GU 1961–1969 1961–1969 Kennedy
4 Crisotbal C. Duenas GU 1969–1991 1969–1991 Nixon Resignation[5]
5 John S. Unpingco GU 1992–2004 1992–2004 G.H.W. Bush Expiration of term [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Organic Act of Guam" (PDF). District Court of Guam. Retrieved April 8, 2010. The judicial authority of Guam shall be vested in a court established by Congress designated as the "District Court of Guam" ...The District Court of Guam shall have the jurisdiction of a district court of the United States, including, but not limited to, the diversity jurisdiction provided for in 1332 of title 28, United States Code, and that of a bankruptcy court of the United States.
  2. ^ "48 U.S. Code § 1424b - Judge of District Court; appointment, tenure, removal, and compensation; appointment of United States attorney and marshal". Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  3. ^ Guam v. Olsen, 431 U.S. 195 (1977).
  4. ^ a b "History of the District Court of Guam" (PDF). gud.uscourts.gov. District Court of Guam. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  5. ^ "PN1293 — John S. Unpingco — The Judiciary". www.congress.gov. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "PN1479 — Frances Marie Tydingco-Gatewood — The Judiciary". www.congress.gov. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

External links[edit]