Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peter-Palican v. CNMI (9th Cir. - Aug. 22, 2012)

The Ninth Circuit includes various outlying territories.  Guam.  The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Island ("CMNI").  Places like that.

They're beautiful.  Really.  But as far as their court systems go, you don't necessarily have the same quality control as you do in the traditional fifty states. To take but one example, filling a district court position in Guam was once very difficult because it was nearly impossible to find any candidate who had actually paid their federal taxes (or even file a tax return).  When your selection criteria essentially boils down to "Have you avoiding committing a federal felony every year for the past decade," that tells you something.

But that quality may be uneven doesn't mean that the justice system is uniformly bad.  Which is why I wanted to mention this case.

Judge Trott certified a question to the Supreme Court of the CMNI and attaches its dispositive answer to the resulting Ninth Circuit opinion.  Check out the underlying opinion.  It's pretty darn good.  The result it reaches seems eminently plausible, and it's reached in a manner that's indistinguishable from anything published in the "normal" fifty.

So good job Justice Castro.  Keep up the good work.