By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Governor's legal counsel Haig Hyunh has not passed his bar exam on Guam and is not fully licensed to practice here. Kandit confirmed with Judiciary of Guam Director of Policy and Planning E. Shawn Gumataotao that Mr. Hyunh only has a temporary license to practice law here.
The following is Mr. Gumataotao's statement:
According to the Supreme Court Clerk of Court, Haig Hyunh was first temporarily admitted into the Guam Bar Association under Rule 3.01(e) of the Admissions Rules (as many other lawyers are, for employment at such government entities as the AG’s Office, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender) on August 10, 2016. This was for employment then with the Public Defender Service Corporation (PDSC). The Judiciary of Guam can confirm that Hyunh paid the required application fee of $500. On June 14, 2017, the Supreme Court of Guam vacated the temporary license due to his resignation from PDSC (because the Rule restricts temporary licensure to full-time employment with a qualifying government entity). Hyunh later re-applied for temporary admission for the balance of his five years (running continuous from August 2016), again paying the $500 application fee. Hyunh was sworn in again as a temporary government licensed lawyer on January 11, 2019, for his employment at the Office of the Governor of Guam. Hyunh may continue practicing under this temporary license up to August 10, 2021, as long as he remains employed in a government of Guam entity. During all times that he is and has been temporarily admitted, he would have had to register with the Guam Bar Association and pay his annual active dues to the GBA (which is a fee separate and apart from the application fee paid to the Supreme Court).
Although Mr. Hyunh was granted a temporary government license to practice law on January 11 this year, he was actively dispensing legal advice to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero's transition team between the time of her election November 8, 2018 through January 10, 2019.
It is unclear whether Mr. Hyunh's employment papers, known as a GG1, reflect approval prior to the granting of the reissuance of his temporary license.
Mr. Hyunh is Ms. Leon Guerrero's son in law, married to her daughter, Dr. Mariana Cook Hyunh. She appointed him to the legal counsel position upon assumption of office January this year.
The position of legal counsel is seen as a springboard to judicial appointment to the Superior Court of Guam. Former Governor Eddie Calvo appointed two of his three legal counsels to the court's bench: Judge Maria Cenzon and former Judge James Canto. Mr. Calvo also recommended that President Obama and President Trump appoint his director of policy, attorney Arthur Clark, to replace District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.
Former Governor Felix Camacho appointed his legal counsel, Arthur Barcinas, to the bench.
Former Governor Joseph F. Ada appointed his legal counsel, Katherine Maraman, to the Superior Court of Guam bench; she later was appointed to the Supreme Court and now is chief justice.
The late Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo appointed his legal counsel, Benjamin Cruz, to the Superior Court bench. He later was appointed to the Supreme Court and served as its chief justice before running for a seat in the Guam Legislature. Mr. Cruz is the public auditor.