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2014 Annual Report
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Court Annual Report
Contents Message from the Chief Justice Mission and Vision Introduction I. Palau Judiciary Organizational ChartOverview of the Judiciary II. About the Courts A. Supreme Court (Trial Division and Appellate Division) B. Land Court C. Court of Common PleasIII. Judicial Nominating Commission Palau Judiciary HighlightsTraining and Workshops A. Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF) Program B. Family Violence and Youth Justice Follow-up workshop C. Penal Code Workshop D. Advanced Mediation Workshop Youth Services Team Helps Palau’s Young AdultsNew Court Building under ConstructionThe Judiciary Welcomes Its New Court CounselAdministrative Changes The Courts’ Work IV. Accountability: Code of Conduct and Complaints V. Case Management (Supreme Court, Land Court, and Court of Common Pleas) A. Clearance Rates B. Average Duration of a Case C. The Court of Appeals
1. Outcome of Appeals in 2014 D. The Court of Common Pleas VI. Accessibility and Fairness A. Free Legal Aid B. Court Fee Waiver C. Access and Fairness Public Survey VII. Court Offices, Departments, and Technology A. Office of the Clerk of Courts 1. Birth Records 2. Death Records 3. Marriage Records 4. Land Records 5. Land Registry 6. Land Court Mediation 7. Supreme Court Mediation B. Marshal Division C. Probation Office D. Law Library E. Technology – Management Information Systems (MIS) F. Facility and Property Management G. Budget Office H. Office of the Court Counsels I. Human Resource OfficeVIII. Annual Budget - FY2014 IX. Court Personnel (as of January 2015)Message from the: Chief Justice
people have the right to know what their judiciary branch of the
government does. We at the Judiciary believe it is our duty to inform
the people what we do .This second Annual Report is one means of
achieving both goals, our duty to inform and the people’s right to know.
people know what we at the Judiciary do, they would be better informed
and would help us to do our work better. We request the people,
especially users of the court’s services, to tell us how we may improve
the delivery and quality of our services.
We want to take this
opportunity to express our appreciation to the many who have given us
assistances and support in various ways .We believe these assistances
and supports have sustained our continuing efforts to do better.
and foremost, we want to thank our Olbiil Era Kelulau (Congress) and
the Executive Branch for our budget for the last two fiscal years.
want to also express our appreciation to the government of the Republic
of China, Taiwan for its generous contribution for the installation of
our management information system and the funding of the new Pablo
We want to convey our appreciation to the
government of Japan for the services of its Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteers who have helped us in the
trainings of our IT personnel.
We also want to thank the Ninth
Circuit Pacific Islands Committee and its Chairperson, Senior District
Judge Consuelo B. Marshall. Using grants from the U.S. Department of
the Interior, the Committee has been developing and delivering various
educational and professional training programs for judges and court
personnel .The Committee collaborates with the Pacific Judicial
Council, an organization of Micronesian and American Samoa Judiciaries.
The Palau Judiciary has benefited greatly from these trainings.
and certainly not the least, we express our appreciation to the Pacific
Judicial Development Programme (“PJDP”) funded by the government of New
Zealand and administered by the Federal Courts of Australia. For the
last five years, PJDP has achieved phenomenal work in increasing
capacities of judges and judicial officers as well as improving courts’
processes and systems in 14 Pacific Island countries, including Palau.
government of New Zealand has generously decided to not only continue
to fund the Programme, but to administer it as well, beginning this
year. The former PJDP is now known as Judicial Pacific Participation
Fund (JPPF).We express our appreciation to the government and the
Judiciary of New Zealand for their continued support.
thank those who participated in some of the surveys we have conducted
to find out how we may improve the Judiciary’ services. Initially, only
a few people took time to participate in the surveys. We are encouraged
by the increased participation in the recent surveys. We are committed
to improve our services.
Palau Supreme CourtMission and Vision
mission of the Palau Judiciary is to preserve and enhance the rule of
law by providing a just, efficient, and accessible mechanism for
resolving disputes. The Judiciary will interpret and apply the law, as
modified by custom and tradition, consistently, impartially, and
independently to protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the
laws and constitution of the Republic of Palau.
Courts of the Republic of Palau will provide justice for all while
maintaining the highest standards of performance, professionalism, and
ethics. Recognizing the inherent dignity of every person who
participates in the justice system, the Judiciary will treat each
participant with respect and will strive to make the process
understandable, affordable, and efficient. Through the thoughtful,
impartial, and well-reasoned resolution of disputes, the Judiciary
enhances the public trust and confidence in this independent branch of
Republic of Palau is an island nation located in the western Pacific
Ocean roughly 500 miles southeast of the Philippines. Geographically,
Palau constitutes part of the Caroline Island chain and is part of the
larger island group of Micronesia. Palau consists of more than 340
islands, of which only 9 are permanently inhabited. The land area of
Palau totals approximately 460 square kilometers (178 square miles),
about 2.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. According to the 2005
population census, Palau’s population was 19,907 (Palau did not conduct
a 2010 census). Current estimates put Palau’s population at
approximately 21,000. About 70% of Palauans live in the former capital
city of Koror on Koror Island. The capital relocated in 2006 from Koror
to a newly constructed complex in Melekeok State on the larger but less
developed island of Babeldaob – the second largest island in Micronesia
In 1978, after more than three decades of United
States administration under the United Nations Trust Territory of the
Pacific Islands (TTPI), Palau, as part of a process toward self
government, voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia
and opted for independent status. Palau adopted its own constitution
and became the Republic of Palau in 1981. It signed a compact of free
association with the United States in 1982 and the Compact was ratified
in 1993. Palau gained full sovereignty when the Compact went into
effect on October 1, 1994, concluding Palau’s transition from
trusteeship to independence.
Palau is a multi-party democratic
republic with directly elected executive and legislative branches. The
President is both head of state and head of government. Executive power
is exercised by the government while legislative power is vested in
both the government and the Palau National Congress (the Olbiil era
Kelulau). The Palau National Congress has two houses – the Senate with
nine members elected nationwide and the House of Delegates made up of
16 members, one from each of Palau’s 16 states. There is also a Council
of Chiefs, comprising the highest traditional chiefs from each of the
16 states. The Council of Chiefs serves as an advisory board to the
President on matters concerning traditional laws and customs. Article X
of the Constitution of the Republic of Palau provides for a judiciary
“independent of the legislative and executive powers.”
Annual Report summarizes the Judiciary’s operations and accomplishments
in the 2014 calendar year, as well as its challenges going forward. The
Annual Report is intended to inform the public about what the Palau
Judiciary does and how it functions.I. Palau Judiciary Organizational ChartOverview of the JudiciaryII. About the Courts
(L-R): Associate Justice Lourdes F. Materne, Associate Justice Kathleen
M. Salii, Associate Justice R. Ashby Pate, Associate Judge Salvador
Ingereklii, and Associate Judge Rose Mary Skebong.
Front (L-R): Senior Judge C. Quay Polloi, Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong, and Senior Judge Honora E. R. Rudimch
Palau Judiciary consists of the Supreme Court (Trial Division and
Appellate Division), the Land Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and
associated administrative units that provide various services to the
A. Supreme Court (Trial Division and Appellate Division)
X of the Constitution vests the Supreme Court with power over all
matters in law and equity and outlines its structure and operation. The
Supreme Court is divided into a Trial Division and an Appellate
Division. Cases are initially adjudicated by a single justice in the
Trial Division. Appeals from Trial Division decisions are heard by
panels of three different justices in the Appellate Division. The
Appellate Division is a “court of last resort,” a superior court of
record having appellate jurisdiction with final authority to adjudicate
all cases and controversies properly brought before it. The Supreme
Court also handles disciplinary and other special proceedings.
Supreme Court currently consists of a Chief Justice and three Associate
Justices. Additional judges are appointed on an as-needed basis as
Associate Justices Pro Tem or Part-Time Associate Justices to assist
with the Court’s workload
(L-R)AJ Salii, Part-time Associate Justice Foley, Part-Time Associate Justice Maraman, CJ Ngiraklsong, AJ Materne
B. Land Court
Land Court was established in 1996 and is vested with jurisdiction over
civil cases involving the adjudication of title to land or any interest
in land. Appeals from the Land Court go directly to the Appellate
Division of the Supreme Court. The Land Court makes determinations with
respect to the ownership of all lands within the Republic, including
the return of land that became public as a result of its acquisition by
previous occupying powers through force, coercion, fraud, or without
just compensation. The Land Court currently includes a Senior Judge and
two Associate Judges. Land Court proceedings are generally conducted in
Palauan, although translation is available for non-Palauan speakers.
C. Court of Common Pleas
Court of Common Pleas was established in 1982 to handle “common” civil
and criminal cases. It has jurisdiction to hear civil cases where the
amount claimed or in dispute is $10,000 or less. It does not, however,
adjudicate cases involving land interests, no matter what the amount
claimed or in dispute is. Land cases are heard in the Land Court. The
Court of Common Pleas also hears all divorce and child support cases,
regardless of the amount in controversy. Generally, the civil cases
that come before the Court include name changes, family law matters,
and simple estate settlement proceedings. The Court also hears small
claims, where the amount claimed is $3,000 or less, in less formal
hearings. The Court of Common Pleas may also adjudicate criminal cases.
Criminal cases are assigned to the Court of Common Pleas by the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court and the maximum possible punishment for
criminal cases heard in the Court of Common Pleas shall not exceed a
$10,000 fine or imprisonment for five years. Appeals from cases
adjudicated by the Court of Common Pleas are filed directly with the
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court has also designated the Court of Common Pleas to
handle civil domestic abuse cases bought under the Family Protection
Act (“FPA”) enacted in November 2012.To meet the requirements of the
FPA’s mandates, the Court has created forms and protocols to assure
that the Court is available to assist persons seeking orders of
protection, both during the Court’s normal operating hours and during
after-hours, if a victim of abuse needs immediate protection. The Court
is also collaborating with other agencies, including the Bureau of
Public Safety, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Health,
and the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs to successfully
implement the FPA’s mandates.
III. Judicial Nominating Commission
Judicial Nominating Commission (the “JNC”) consists of seven members,
all of whom must be citizens of Palau. The Chief Justice serves as the
JNC’s Chairperson. Three members are elected from and by the Palau Bar
Association and the final three members are appointed by the President
of Palau. If a JNC member becomes a candidate for political office,
they must resign their seat on the JNC.
When a vacancy for a
Judge or Justice within the Palau Judiciary becomes available, the JNC
produces a list of seven nominees and presents the list to the
President. The list of nominees is created using a secret ballot. If
there is a conflict of interest involving a JNC member and a potential
nominee, the JNC member must recuse himself or herself from voting or
discussions regarding the nominee. In addition, should a JNC member
become a potential nominee, that member must also recuse himself or
herself. The qualities sought in judicial nominees include: integrity
and moral courage; legal ability and experience; intelligence and
wisdom; compassion and fairness; diligence and decisiveness; judicial
temperament; and awareness of and sensitivity to Palauan culture. Every
year, regardless of whether there is a Judicial Office vacancy, the JNC
chairperson is required to call a meeting to review the commission’s
current rules and procedures, educate new members on current rules and
procedures, and compose a list of seven potential nominees for Chief
Justice should the current Chief Justice resign or pass away.
Palau Judiciary Highlights
Training and Workshops
A. Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF) Program
September 22 – October 03, 2014, Senior Judge Honora E. Remengesau
Rudimch attended the Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF)
Program in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. The ALAF program was
sponsored and funded by the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade and the Family Court of Australia. The goal of the program was to
improve access to family law courts for women and other disadvantaged
groups by identifying ways to strengthen the delivery of family law
services to women, children and persons with disabilities. The ALAF
aimed to facilitate dialogue among judicial leaders, NGOs and CSO’s on
the (i) role of family courts in ending violence against women and
children; (ii) policy responses to increasing women’s access to
justice; and (iii) how the courts and other stakeholders in the Pacific
might improve their coordinated efforts against violence. Other ALAF
Fellows from Palau included Lalii C. Sakuma, then Chief Public Defender
from the Public Defender’s Office and Rebecca Koshiba, Program
Manager/Social Worker from the Victims of Crimes Assistance program
(Ministry of Health). The fellowship also included participants from
Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
Row: Senior Judge Rudimch, Palau Fellow, Chief Justice Diana Bryant,
Family Court of Australia, Natasha Stott-Despoja, Ambassador for Women
& Children Australia, Nani Zulminani, Director PEKKA Indonesia,
Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim, Supreme Court of PNG
Row: Cate Sumner, Lead Adviser Legal Identity Program Australia
Indonesia Partnership for Justice, Ume Wainetti, PNG Fellow, Angelyn
Singh, Fiji Fellow, Lalii C. Sakuma, Palau Fellow, Leisha Lister,
Executive Adviser Family Court of Australia, Senior Magistrate Rosie
Johnson, PNG Fellow, Elena Down, CBM Nossal Partnership for Disability
Inclusive Development, PEKKA representative, Rebecca Koshiba, Palau
Fellow, Barbara Malimali, Fiji Fellow, Rajni Chand, Fiji Fellow
the two week program, the ALAF participants also attended the 7th
International Association for Court Administration Conference in
Sydney. Senior Judge Rudimch, along with the Chief Magistrate of PNG, a
PhD candidate from the School of Governance Maastricht University, The
Netherlands, and the Dep. Director International Programmes of the
Australian Human Rights Commission gave presentations on “International
Perspectives on Access to Justice and the Empowerment of Women Affected
by Family/Domestic Violence.” Senior Judge Rudimch’s presentation
focused on Palau based on the Preliminary Findings from the 2014 Belau
Family Health Study Survey (BFHSS), which have since been adopted, and
the Family Protection Act of 2012 and other recent developments in the
area of domestic violence.
Marotta, The Netherlands School of Governance Maastricht University,
Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim, Supreme Court of PNG, Leisha Lister,
Executive Adviser Family Court of Australia, Natasha De Silva, Dep.
Director International Programs Unit of the Australia Human Rights
Commission, Senior Judge Rudimch, Palau Court of Common Pleas
B. Family Violence and Youth Justice Follow-up Workshop
violence Is a cross-cutting issue affecting families across the pacific
islands without regard for income, status, education level, race, or
gender. The Palau Judiciary is committed to helping to combat this
problem. As a continuation of the effort to do so, The Palau Judiciary,
in partnership with the Pacific Judicial Development Programme, held a
follow-up workshop on Family Violence and Youth Justice at the Koror
State Assembly Hall September 9 through September 11, 2014.
Participants were primarily stakeholder agencies involved in the
implementation of the Family Protection Act including the Bureau of
Public Safety, Office of the Attorney General, the Palau Judiciary, the
Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs.
Other participants included senators, members of the Palau Bar
Association, Ministry of Education officials, PCC/Talent Search Program
representatives, and various non-governmental organizations and
interested citizens including First Lady Debbie M. Remengesau.
purpose of the workshop was to study the Family Protection Act, review
protocols established by some of the partner agencies to ensure the
implementation of the Act, and to discuss the progress made since the
last Family Violence and Youth Justice Workshop held in 2012.
Presentation topics included the specific provisions of the Act, from
police responsibilities to the various crimes under the Act and the
process for obtaining a civil domestic abuse restraining order and the
a description of the types of specialist services available at the
Behavioral Health Division, including those for domestic abuse cases.
Participants walked away with a deeper understanding of the protections
and resources available under the Act and the procedures in place to
access them. Agreed outcomes of the workshop included the need for a
shelter, allocation of fines to support victims’ services, better data
collection and information sharing, and legislation designed
specifically to address elder abuse.
Rengiil-Probation Officer, Jonnie Ngeluk-Police Officer, Vierra
Toribiong-Probation Officer, Dr. Marie Rocelle, Dr. Jasmine
Vergara-DBHd, Rebecca Koshiba-VOCA/MOH, Lorenze Metzner – PJDP
Programme Coordinator, Kenny Sengebau-Police Officer
Senior Judge Honora E.R. Rudimch – Court of Common Pleas, Minister
Baklai Temengil – MCCA, Judge Peter Bosier – New Zealand, Senator
J.Uduch Senior – 9th OEK.
C. Penal Code Workshop
Judiciary and the Bar Association jointly sponsored a workshop on
Palau’s new criminal code August 25 through August 27, 2014, in Koror,
Palau. United States District Court Judges Consuelo Marshall and André
Birotte, as well as Federal Public Defender Sean Kevin Kennedy,
travelled to Palau to discuss the new code and its implications.
Lectures highlighted the differences between the old and new codes and
focused on crimes of particular concern to the Republic, such as money
laundering and narcotics.
The workshop was well attended by
lawyers, judges, law enforcement officials, and members of the Palau
legislature, providing a unique opportunity to explore the new code
with input from a variety of perspectives.
(L-R)Grace Frink (Law Clerk for Judge Marshall), Federal Public Defender Sean Kevin Kennedy,
Judge Consuelo Marshall, Judge Andre Birotte
D. Advanced Mediation Workshop
Ng, Deputy District Registrar of the Federal Court of Australia based
in Sydney, visited Palau on behalf of the Pacific Judicial Development
Program (PJDP) from January 14 through January 16, 2014, to conduct an
Advanced Mediation Workshop for local attorneys and interested members
of the Palauan judiciary. While in Palau, Mr. Ng also co-mediated two
court matters with local attorneys.
This was Mr. Ng’s second
visit to the island. In January 2013 he travelled to Palau to conduct
the Beginner’s Mediation Workshop which was attended by over 50
participants. During that visit he co-mediated a dispute with local
attorney, Mr. Siegfried B. Nakamura.
The 3 day Advanced Workshop
was attended by 13 participants who learned a number of advanced
mediation techniques including dealing with difficult litigants,
managing expectations, bridging cultural communication barriers, as
well as participating in intensive role-playing exercises. Palau’s
Chief Justice, Arthur Ngiraklsong established a court-annexed mediation
program in 2013 where court staff and some local attorneys (acting pro
bono) have conducted mediations on behalf of the Court. To date, 20
court matters have been referred for mediation by the Palau Judiciary.
12 of those court matters have been successfully settled (60% success
rate), which has benefited the parties and the Judiciary by reducing
legal costs and freeing up Supreme Court resources.
Judiciary strongly encourages people who have legal disputes to use the
Supreme Court’s Mediation Program to resolve their differences.
Youth Services Team Helps Palau's Young Adults
Justice is another substantial issue in the Pacific and the way in
which our young people are involved in the justice system is a concern
of the Judiciary. Probation officers and judges from the Palau
Judiciary work with the Juvenile Justice Work Group’s (“JJWG”) Youth
Services Team (“YST”) on various programs designed to keep kids in
school, teach life and job skills, provide counseling, educate kids and
their families about the Family Protection Act. The efforts are
primarily intervention methods aimed at keeping youth out of the
justice system. They are also designed to help youth who are involved
with the justice system transition find ways to transition back to
school or work and move forward with their lives in a positive way. The
members of YST from the Judiciary participate as speakers and
presenters at YST events including youth camps and community forums,
and meet regularly with youth participants to engage in community
The JJWG was established in 2012 to focus on
policies/reform and work with various agencies and groups to address
issues around and improve youth justice services. THJJWG is comprised
of volunteers from various governmental and non governmental agencies
and offices including the Office of the Attorney General, the Bureau of
Public Safety, the Public Defender’s Office, the Ministries of
Education and Health, Palau High School, the Probation Office, and
Palau Parents Empowered. The YST was established within JJWG to address
specific cases, seek optimum services for youth, and provide community
awareness projects for youth.
New Court Building under Construction
is progressing on the new courthouse building in downtown Koror. The
building is named after the late Judge Pablo Ringang, presiding judge
of the Justice Court and the District Court. The new building will
provide needed space for Judiciary offices including the Office of the
Clerk of Courts, the Court of Common Pleas courtroom and judges’
chambers. The new building is also designed to provide additional space
to enable the Judiciary to provide services supporting it’s mediation
program and the Family Protection Act including mediation rooms and a
Family Protection Act overnight room which will provide a safe
temporary space for victims of domestic violence in need. The projected
completion date of the new building is April 2015.
The Judiciary Welcomes Its New Court Counsel
September 2014, the Palau Judiciary welcomed Alexander Weber and Peter
Ghattas as the new Court Counsel for the 2014 – 2015 term. Mr. Weber is
from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and recently completed a two-year
federal clerkship in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Missouri. Mr. Weber graduated from Stanford Law School,
where he served as the Managing Editor of the Stanford Journal of
International Law. During law school, he also worked for the
prosecution at two international criminal tribunals – the Extraordinary
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – and co-authored a textbook on the
constitutional law of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East
Timor). Mr. Weber graduated summa cum laude from Washington & Lee
University in 2009.
Mr. Ghattas is from Wellesley, Massachusetts
and recently completed a federal clerkship in the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland. He graduated magna cum
laude from American University Washington College of Law, where he
served as a member of the American University Law Review and as a
Student Public Defender for the American University Criminal Justice
Clinic. During law school, Mr. Ghattas worked for the Center for
Reproductive Rights on the cases that would eventually reach the United
States Supreme Court as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. He graduated from The
George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.
Renee Harris, was appointed Administrative Director for the Palau
Judiciary in November 2014. Ms. Harris arrived in Palau with a diverse
professional background. Most recently she was the Director of The
National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights (“NCRCR”), a nonpartisan
coalition of over 100 organizations, lawyers, academics, students, and
community activists concerned about the erosion of civil rights and
social justice laws in the United States Federal Courts. Prior to
joining NCRCR, Juanne was a Senior Litigation Associate with Paul,
Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City, and also
served as a federal judicial law clerk in the United States District
Court for the District of New Jersey. She left Paul Weiss in 2008 to
join the Obama/Biden Ohio Campaign for Change as a member of the Voter
Protection Attorney Team. She was also in-house counsel for Tribeca
Enterprises LLC, a diversified media company. Prior to practicing law
Ms. Harris spent six years as a marketing and sales executive in the
sports and entertainment industry with the National Football League.
Born and raised in New York City, she attended the Bronx High School of
Science, graduated from Dartmouth College with a History degree,
received a Masters of Business Administration from The Kenan – Flagler
Business School at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and
completed her law degree with honors at St. John's University School of
The Courts' Work
Palau Judiciary prides itself on operating ethically and efficiently,
producing quality decisions and ensuring access to justice for all of
Palau’s citizens. The indicators below measure the judiciary’s
performance. The clearance rate and average duration of a case measure
how efficiently the courts are managing their case loads. The quality
of decisions can be evaluated by the number of decisions appealed and,
more importantly, the number of decisions overturned on appeal. And
finally, access to justice can be gauged by looking at the fee
structure, availability of free legal counsel and accessibility of
forms and court services.
The information below provides details about how well the judiciary is doing regarding these indicators.
IV. Accountability: Code of Conduct and Complaints
Judiciary’s Code of Judicial Conduct was promulgated on March 1, 2011
by the Palau Supreme Court and amended on March 9, 2011. A copy of the
Judicial Code of Conduct can be retrieved from the Palau Judiciary
website: http://wwww.palausupremecourt.net, Rules & Other Publications, Judicial Code of Conduct. In 2014, two complaints were received against judicial officers.
There were no complaints made against Judiciary staff in 2014.
V. Case Management (Supreme Court, Land Court, and Court of Common Pleas)
A. Clearance Rates
Palau Judiciary recognizes its obligation to dispose of cases before it
in a reasonable time. Accordingly, the Court seeks to finalize cases in
a timely manner. The “clearance rate” reflects cases “cleared” or
finalized as a percentage of (in relation to) the total number of cases
filed. Where clearance rates have declined, this reflects a comparable
decline in the overall number of cases filed.
Although the Family Protection act was enacted in November 2012, the first case under this act was filed in 2014.
2014 Clearance rate summary for all courts is as follows:
B. Average Duration of a Case
rendering a decision in a matter, the Judiciary’s goal is to provide
such decisions in a timely manner. Because of the complexity of their
work, however, Judges may not always announce their decisions
immediately at the conclusion of a case and some decisions may be
delivered at a later date.
The charts below provide details
about the average duration, from filing to finalization (not including
appeals) for the different types of cases heard in the Supreme Court –
Trial- Division, Land Court and Court of Common Pleas.
C. The Court of Appeals
total of forty-one (41) appeals were filed in 2014. These numbers
represents the number of appeal applications made in the various lower
courts. The number of appeal applications does not represent the
actual number of cases decided in the lower courts that can be
appealed, and does not reflect whether the appeal was successful.
D. The Court of Common Pleas
Majority of cases handled by the Court of Common Pleas are Citations
and are heard weekly. A citation can be paid at the Office of the Clerk
of Courts if an offender does not contest the charge(s). Certain types
of Citations cannot be paid directly, however, and the offender must
appear before the court. The various types of Citations are:
- TCC – Traffic violations and some misdemeanor charges.
- JTC & JDC – Juvenile Citations
- MCC – Marijuana
- K SG – Koror State Government
- ABC – ABC Board
- DRT – Division of Revenue and Taxation
- WSC – Water Safety Citation
The chart below details the number of ctations, by type, issued for the past five (5) years.
There were a total of 1,047 citations filed with the Court of Common Pleas in 2014.
case types filed with the Court of Common Pleas include criminal,
civil, domestic abuse, small claims, and juvenile cases. In 2014, 52
Criminal (CR), 125 Civil (CA), 24 Domestic Abuse (CA/DA), 65 Small
Claims(SM), and 1 Juvenile (JV) case were filed with this court. The
overall total number of cases filed in the Court of Common Pleas in
2014 was 1,314 cases. The total number of cases disposed of by the Court of Common Pleas in 2014 was 1,134.
At the end of the year 2014, Court of Common Pleas had a total of 266 cases pending on its docket.
VI. Accessibility and Fairness
Judiciary functions to make the courts and justice accessible to all.
As part of this effort, it provides fee waivers, conducts annual public
surveys, and has created a judiciary website, where members of the
public can find rules, publications, court calendars, forms,
information on selected cases, information about fees, and press
releases. Please visit us at: http://www.palausupremecourt.net.
A. Free Legal Aid
2014, more than 187 parties in criminal cases, 8 parties in juvenile
case, 65 parties in cases before the Court of Common Pleas, and 50
parties in civil cases received free legal aid.
B. Court Fee Waiver
of money should never be a barrier to justice. Accordingly, another way
that the Court ensures access to justice for all is to provide fee
waivers to parties who cannot afford the costs associated with filing a
lawsuit. Fees may be waived by the court of proper jurisdiction if the
Petitioner or Plaintiff requests such a waiver using the appropriate
form. The fee waiver form is available at the Office of the Clerk of
Court and on the Judiciary Website under Forms. (http://palausupremecourt.net).
No fee waivers were requested in 2014.
governments, government agencies, semi-government agencies,
authorities, commissions, and boards are not required to pay the filing
fee but will be charged the usual fees for service of papers by the
C. Access and Fairness Public Survey
the past four years the Judiciary has conducted public surveys to
solicit public opinion and feedback to aid in the judiciary’s efforts
to improve court services. During the week of June 8 – June 14, 2014,
the Court conducted a customer survey designed to measure public
satisfaction with regards to: 1) access to the courts and; 2)
perceptions about fairness. 115 people completed the survey. The survey
group was made up of court customers from diverse backgrounds including
Palauans, Americans, Filipinos, and Bangladeshi, who visited the Court
to utilize various court services such as searching for information,
paying fines and attending court cases.
The graphs below detail the survey outcomes.
Q1. The forms needed were clear and easy to understand.
Number of Responses: 110
Q2. I was able to get my business done in a reasonable amount of time
Number of Responses:
Q3. Court staff paid attention to my needs
Number of Responses: 107
Q4. I was treated with courtesy and respect.
Number of Responses: 109
Q5: I easily found the courtroom or office I needed.
Number of Responses: 109
Q6: The Court's website was useful.
Number of Responses: 110
Q7: The way my case was handled was fair.
Number of Responses: 108
Q8: I was treated the same way as everyone else.
Number of Responses: 107
Q9: The judge listened to my side of the story before he or she made a decision.
Number of Responses: 106
Q10: The judge had all the information necessary to make a good decision about my case.
Number of Resposes: 108
Q11: As I leave the court, I know what to do next about my case.
Number of Responses: 107
Q12: I checked the website.
Number of Responses: 100
Q13: Was the website useful?
Number of Responses: 26
Q14: Did you like it?
Number of Responses: 24
Q15: Where did you go on the website?
Number of Responses: 19
Q16: What did you do at the court today?
Number of Responses: 99
Q17: What type of case brought you to the court today?
Number of Responses: 99
Q18: How do you identify yourself?
Number of Responses: 105
Q19: What is your gender?
Number of Responses: 109
VII. Court Offices, Departments, and Technology
A. Office of the Clerk of Courts
Office of the Clerk of Courts is the largest division within the Court
and is the primary point of contact for persons interacting with the
Judiciary. The main purpose of the office is to provide clerical
assistance and support to Judges and service the public. The office
processes all documents filed with the Court, including civil and
criminal cases and appeals, traffic and other citations, warrants, and
jury summons. It handles vital statistics, such as birth, death, and
marriage certificates, and land transaction documents. The office
receives and disburses funds related to court cases such as fines,
restitution, and child support payments. The deputy clerks also work in
the courtroom to record proceedings and provide interpretation when
necessary. And finally, the Clerk of Courts handles a variety of
miscellaneous services, from the certification of documents to fielding
inquiries from parties, attorneys, and the public about court cases or
1. Birth Records
Four hundred and nine (409) birth certificates were recorded at the Office of the Clerk of Courts in 2014.
2. Death Records
hundred and seventy (170) death certificates were recorded at the
office of the Clerk of Courts in 2014, an increase of 11 records
compared to 2013.
3. Marriage Records
hundred and twenty-three (123) marriage certificates were filed at the
Office of the Clerk of Courts in 2014, an increase of 22 records
compared to 2013.
4. Land Records
thousand seven hundred sixty four (1,764) land records were recorded at
the Office of the Clerk of Courts in 2014. One thousand two hundred
sixty six (1,266) land documents were recorded in 2013.
5. Land Registry
Office of the Registrar plays a vital role in land matters. The
Registrar records all documents that transfer title to land and
supervises the operation of the Central Land Registry Section. The
Central Land Registry Section is the repository for all property plats
and final cadastral maps, certificates of title, determinations of
ownership, and other land-related documents.
nine-hundred six (906) Certificate of Titles (CT) were issued by the
office of the Land Registry. There were five hundred thirty three (533)
Certificates of Title issued in 2013.
addition to the Certificates of Title mentioned above, five hundred
thirteen (513) land documents were recorded with the Land Registry.
6. Land Court Mediation
None of the nine hundred and ninety (990) new cases brought to Land Court were decided through mediation.
7. Supreme Court Mediation
to Article X, section 14, of the Constitution of the Republic of Palau,
the Supreme Court added “Rule 72: Initiation of Mediation Procedures”
to the Rules of Civil Procedures on February 27, 2013. Mediation is an
extrajudicial procedure for resolving civil disputes. A mediator
facilitates negotiation between parties and assists them in trying to
reach a settlement. The mediator, however, does not have the
authority to impose a settlement upon the parties. Mediators are court
staff, judges, and some local attorneys (acting pro bono).
2014, seventeen civil cases were referred to mediation. Out of those
seventeen cases assigned to mediation 5 of them were settled within
2014. There were six other cases settled through mediation in 2014 but
they were referred to Mediation in 2013. In 2013, there were only 2
cases resolved through mediation in the Supreme Court.
strongly encourages people who have legal disputes to use the Supreme
Court’s Mediation Program to resolve their differences.
B. Marshal Division
Marshal Division was created in 1998. The marshals are responsible for
serving court documents, executing bench warrants, acting as bailiffs,
and providing security for all of the courts. The marshals are also
authorized to make court-ordered arrests.
division served a total of seven thousand nine hundred and seventy-one
(7,971) documents in 2014. In 2013 it served 7,343 documents.
Additional services rendered by the marshals include night monitoring of probationers and the judges’ residences.
C. Probation Office
Office of Probation monitors and submits reports on criminal offenders
sentenced to probation. The Office seeks to ensure that the terms and
conditions of probation are met by providing educational and job
placement assistance and counseling. The Office of Probation also
prepares and submits pre-sentencing reports to the Court to assist with
determining appropriate sentence of criminal offenders.
D. Law Library
Singichi Ikesakes Law Library houses over 16,000 legal volumes,
including all sources of Palauan Law, international law reporters, and
an array of treatises and reference books. Photocopying services are
also available. The law library is open to the public from 7:30am to
4:30pm Monday through Friday. Arrangements may be made with the law
librarian, no later than 3:30pm on Thursday, to use the law library
during weekend hours (the requester will be charged for the costs
associated with personnel overtime). Paid photocopying services are
also available at the law library.
The Moses Mokoll Memorial Law Library, located in Melekeok, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday only.
of the quick deterioration of documents and lack of storage space, an
archiving project is in progress. The Judiciary aims to have all
documents scanned and available electronically. Many files have already
been scanned and are now stored in an easily accessible database.
E. Technology - Management Information Systems (MIS)
MIS Division provides the Judiciary with computer resources. The
Division maintains a networked database that provides ready access to
records and cases to all court staff. Members of the public are welcome
to access court records electronically at the Office of the Clerk of
Courts, located in Judge Pablo Ringang Building in the Court Complex in
Koror and at the Judiciary Building at Ngerulmud Melekeok.
substantial financial assistance from the Taiwan government, the
Judiciary was able to launch its Judiciary Information Systems (JIS) in
November 2011. JIS is a web-based database program and is accessible at
both the Koror and Melekeok Judiciary locations. The system aids the
court in case and resource management and administrative services. The
court continues to seek ways to utilize technology to provide better
customer service and is researching ways and funding to expand the JIS
F. Facility and Property Management
Management Office maintains the Court's buildings and grounds,
maintains an inventory of the Court's property, and procures supplies
for use in the administration of the Judiciary.
G. Budget Office
Budget Office is responsible for managing the financial resources of
the Judiciary in accordance with the laws, regulations, and policies of
the Republic of Palau.
The Budget Office oversees the following:
(1) financial statements and reporting; (2) cash receipts; (3) accounts
receivable; (4) cash disbursements; (5) accounts payable; (6)
appropriations; (7) audit; (8) revenue forecast; (9) seek grants; and
The office provides a comprehensive financial management system that is efficient, effective, independent, and accountable.
H. Office of the Court Counsels
Office of the Court Counsel is primarily responsible for assisting the
Justices and Judges with legal research related to cases that come
before the Court. In addition, Court Counsels assist in preparing court
publications and provide advice on the legality of administrative
operations. The Office consists of two to three attorneys under
contract for one year and recruited from the law clerks of U.S. federal
and state courts.
I. Human Resource Office
Resource office is responsible for overseeing personnel matters,
including hiring, performance evaluations, pay raises, and training for
staff. The Office also maintains personnel files for every Judiciary
employee and processes contracts for those employees who are hired on a
VII. Annual Budget - FY2014
IX. Court Personnel (as of January 2015)
Palau JudiciaryP.O. Box 248Koror, Republic of PalauPW 96940Telephone: (680)488-4979/3331/2607Facsimile: (680)488-1597Electronic Mail: email@example.comWebsite: http://www.palausupremecourt.net