Case Details


Attorney General Of Guam Has Common Law Powers

Filing State



Guam Supreme Court




Attorney General of Guam v. Gutierrez,2011 Guam 10 (Guam, 2011)


Attorney General of Guam has standing to sue Guam officials for improper use of state money under both common law authority and Guam statutes.

Case Description

The Attorney General of Guam brought an action under Guam’s Enforcement of Proper Government Spending Act, 5 GCA § 7101 et seq., against the former Governor and the administrator of the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, alleging improper and unauthorized payments to a doctor employed by the Authority. On appeal, defendants challenged the Attorney General’s standing to bring such an action. Defendants argued, and the court of appeals agreed, that section 7103 did not give the Attorney General standing to bring a claim, because it was intended to empower taxpayers, not government officials. However, the court found that the Attorney General has the power under other Guam statutes and under common law to bring this action. Under 5 GCA §30103, the Attorney General has common law powers “which include, but are not limited to, the right to bring suit to challenge laws which he believes to be unconstitutional and to bring action on behalf of the Territory representing the citizens as a whole for redress of grievances which the citizens individually cannot achieve, unless expressly limited by any law of Guam to the contrary.” Although individual citizens could seek redress here, because the statute describes the Attorney General’s powers as including, but not being limited to, the bringing of suits where citizens cannot, this statute does not limit the Attorney General’s powers. The court of appeals also found that the Attorney General had standing under several other provisions of Guam law. Finally, the court reiterated an earlier holding that, under the common law, in the absence of legislative intent, the Attorney General may act in the public interest. Pursuing these claims is in furtherance of that interest, and the Attorney General therefore has authority to do so.