OIA Announces Funding Support for 9th Circuit Judicial Training Program for Pacific Insular Areas

6/3/2022
Last edited 6/16/2022

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs has approved its annual agreement with the Ninth Judicial Circuit to provide legal training and oversight responsibilities for the judiciaries in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Republic of Palau. OIA is providing $428,967 in fiscal year (FY) 2022 Technical Assistance Program (TAP) funds to continue this judicial program. Compact of Free Association grant funding in the amount of $377,000 in FY 2022 provides the same judicial training in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“A fair and qualified judicial system is critical in every community, and we are pleased to provide these funds that will help ensure these needs are met in the Insular Areas,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa.

Designed, managed, and run by the Ninth Circuit for the Pacific Insular Areas, the comprehensive training program is designed to strengthen court governance and the rule of law, improve judicial systems and processes, and improve judicial education, especially of newly appointed judicial officers.

Objectives of judicial education training programs include:

  • Training to provide fair, impartial, and speedy justice and a bench imbued with integrity, professionalism, and competence.
  • Training of court leaders with ethical principles so that they can train court staff and lead courts into the 21st century.
  • Lawyer training to ensure a pool of qualified candidates to fill future judicial vacancies.
  • Court interpreter training to ensure access to justice for local communities.
  • Training for probation officers, court security officers and other court personnel, to develop continuity of services throughout the island courts that will effectively and efficiently safeguard the administration of justice.
  • Traditional law training related to customs and traditions in the Island Areas and where they intersect with statutory law.

In 1976, Chief Judge Richard H. Chambers of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recommended to then Chief Justice Warren Burger of the United States Supreme Court that a committee be created to work with the courts of the South Pacific, including those with U.S. territorial status. Chief Justice Burger agreed and appointed Chief Judge Chambers to chair the Pacific Territories Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. The committee’s purpose was to function as a resource to the U.S. territories and now former trust territories of the Pacific Islands to make their judicial systems more efficient and advance the rule of law. In 1988, following a Supreme Court recommendation, President Ronald Reagan turned the committee’s work over to the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit where it resides today.

For more, visit https://www.pacificjudicialcouncil.org/committees/pacific-islands-committee.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @InsularAffairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Follow and “like” OIA on Facebook and subscribe to the OIA YouTube Channel.

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