About the Pacific Islands Committee

The Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit established the Pacific Islands Committee to fulfill the oversight responsibilities of the Council and of the Judicial Conference of the United States with respect to the judiciaries of the American territories in the Pacific (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and of the former Trust Territories: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The United States assisted with the formation of the judiciaries in these islands and the Pacific Islands Committee is charged with monitoring their judicial development. Traditionally, the courts of the Pacific administered justice with modest levels of resources. 

The specific responsibilities of the Pacific Islands Committee include assisting in the development and provision of continuing judicial education and court professional training, and overall improvement of the administration of justice in the courts. The committee also has oversight responsibility for judicial education grants from the Department of the Interior which provide the funding for the training activities contained in this report.

The Pacific Islands Committee is composed of federal judges appointed by the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit.  The current membership includes:

 

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Pacific Islands Committee Title 2020
Hon. M. Margaret McKeown Chair Circuit Judge United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Hon. A. Wallace Tashima Senior Circuit Judge United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Hon. Richard R. Clifton Senior Circuit Judge United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Hon. Morgan Christen Circuit Judge United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Hon. Donald W. Molloy Senior District Judge District of Montana
Hon. Michael W. Mosman Chief District Judge District of Oregon
Hon. Frances Tydingco-Gatewood Chief District Judge District of Guam
Hon. Ramona Villagomez Manglona Chief District Judge District of the Northern Mariana Islands
Ms. Elizabeth Smith Circuit Executive Office of the Circuit Executive
Ms. Renée S. Lorda Assistant Circuit Executive Office of the Circuit Executive
Mr. Russell W Mathieson Education Specialist Office of the Circuit Executive
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Overview of the Pacific Islands Judicial Education Program

The Department of the Interior appropriates funds each fiscal year to the Ninth Circuit to provide judicial training programs in the Pacific territories and Freely Associated States.  This funding, which is mandated by Congress, covers the cost of presenter/staff travel, training materials and the travel costs of attendees for judicial education programs developed for the American territories and former territories in the Pacific.  Each year, the Pacific Islands Committee of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council provides Interior with a written report summarizing the programs and related expenses.

The courts of American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau participate in a wide variety of training programs designed to strengthen court governance and the rule of law, improve judicial systems and processes, and develop the skills of newly appointed judicial officers. The objectives of the training programs are as follows:

  • The training of judges to provide fair, impartial, and speedy justice, with a bench imbued with integrity, professionalism and competence
  • The training of court leaders with ethical principles to train court staff and lead courts in the 21st century
  • The training of lawyers to provide a pool of qualified candidates to fill future judicial vacancies
  • The training of court interpreters to provide access to justice to local communities
  • The training of probation officers, court security officers, and other court personnel to effectively and efficiently administer access to justice

 

Program Development

The Pacific Islands Committee of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, which oversees the delivery of judicial training in these island jurisdictions, works closely with the Education Committee of the Pacific Judicial Council [PJC] to plan, develop, and deliver judicial training and court development services locally. In addition, the Committee works independently with the leadership of the judiciary of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to coordinate training consistent with the goals established by the judiciary’s strategic plan and to provide scholarship opportunities to U.S. mainland trainings when those programs best serve the needs of the stakeholders. Compact Funds also support programs developed independently by the courts of the Federated States of Micronesia.

 

Target Audience

The assessment performed by the National Judicial College identifies the principal target audience for judicial training. This document, along with the FSM and RMI strategic plans, and the leadership of the judges who make up the PJC Education Committee, determine the training priorities each year. In fiscal year 2018, the highest educational needs have included practical training for probation officers, court administrators, and judicial officers. For judges, training focused on a wide variety of topics ranging from evidence, judicial writing, FAS/Territorial immigration issues, and attorney discipline.

 

Measuring the Impact of Judicial Training

Each program is evaluated to determine the impact of professional development on judicial (or staff) knowledge, beliefs/attitudes, and skills. Evaluation assures that the beneficiaries of this training have the knowledge and skills required to perform their judicial branch responsibilities with fairness and integrity. It preserves impartiality and access to the justice system; and ensures the administration of justice as well as public trust and confidence in the judicial branch.
For each program, ongoing evaluation is carried out to monitor cost efficiencies and evaluate program impact. To enable effective evaluation, precisely defined learning objectives are established for each program developed or attended by a funded participant. Careful evaluation of each program by participants is carried out and a summary reviewed by the program planning committee.
The effectiveness of the judicial education programs developed in FY 2014 in terms of learning gain, attitudinal or behavioral change, and improved professional conduct and performance was measured by a combination of the following:

  • Participant satisfaction and self-evaluation forms
  • Assessment of learning outcomes
  • Reports written and submitted by scholarship recipients and program attendees
  • A review of court annual reports.

 

Annual Reports

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