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    Posted December 27, 2013 by
    theguamnews
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    NAVY WIFE SAYS GUAM SUPREME COURT VIOLATED RIGHTS

     
    SORRY FOR THE BAD FORMATTING - WILL NOT REFORMAT. *****Over fourteen years ago, Cheryl Gray, the wife of a Naval officer stationed on Guam, challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the Guam courts and the constitutionality of Guam's divorce laws on due process and equal protection grounds before the Guam Supreme Court in original writ proceedings. On November 17, 1999, the Guam Supreme Court declined to determine the constitutional question and the validity of Guam's divorce laws. ****** In August 2013, Mrs. Gray filed an action in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan alleging continuing violations of her constitutional rights resulting from the Guam divorce judgment.   **** Mrs. Gray's filings with the federal court allege that she was intentionally precluded from participating in the divorce proceedings by Edward Gray and the Superior Court of Guam after the Guam Supreme Court failed to rule on the validity of the divorce laws.  Gray claims this was to intentionally prevent her from being able to take further legal action, including appeal, and that her bank account has been frozen under a temporary restraining order issued by the Superior Court since March 1998 and she has been illegally deprived of rights, benefits and property.  *****Gray states her complaint raises claims that she has been denied access to the court since November 1999 on her underlying claim that Guam's divorce laws are invalid and discriminate against nonresident military wives, and that she has been deprived of due process and equal protection.  She argues that the United States Supreme Court precedent is clear under Christopher v Harbury, regarding backward looking access to court claims, where the underlying claim is non-frivolous, such as the challenge she brought to the Guam court's subject matter jurisdiction on constitutional grounds in 1999.  ***** In her most recent court filings, Mrs. Gray also challenges the validity of the creation of the Guam Supreme Court in 1996 under the Organic Act, which requires three separate branches of government.  **** According to Gray, testimony in the the Congressional Record is clear that the Guam judiciary was not an equal branch of government until the courts were created within the Organic Act by Congress in 2004.  Until 2004, the courts could be abolished by the legislative and executive branches.  *** Gray argues that laws in conflict with the Organic Act are invalid and that the Guam Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to hear her original writ application. ***** Gray further alleges that even if the Guam Supreme Court had been validly created, the Guam legislature stripped the court of its supervisory authority over the Superior Court in February 1998 and, therefore, the Supreme Court would have still lacked jurisdiction to entertain her challenge to Guam's divorce law and could not issue the order she requested from the court.  ****Gray states the Guam Supreme Court concealed its lack of jurisdiction from her when she filed an application for writ of prohibition in July 1999, and points to an October 1999 public State of the Judiciary speech given by Justice Benjamin Cruz.  Cruz's speech, given in October 1999, one month prior to the Guam Supreme Court's refusal to grant Gray relief, expressly states the appellate court had been stripped of its supervisory powers by the legislature.  ****Gray states the Guam Supreme Court had an absolute duty to disclose it did not have jurisdiction of her writ application and that the actions of the court prevented her from bringing her claim regarding the Guam divorce laws in federal court in the first instance.  Gray says the court was aware she was litigating in Guam by mail from Michigan and would not have access to Guam law.   ****Although the divorce laws have been amended slightly since the Gray's divorce, Mrs. Gray states the laws continue to deprive military wives of equal protection and due process and to deny recognition of their residence in the sovereign states. She claims convenient divorces to nonresident servicemen is not a legitimate territorial interest where the divorce laws interfere in fundamental matters of marriage and family protected by the United States Constitution.  ***** Gray states military wives must be considered residents of Guam after 90 days physical presence on the island under the divorce laws and are preventing from testimony or proof showing they are not residents, yet military wives do not qualify for benefits given to Guam residents by the Guam government, which does require proof of actual residence in Guam.   **** According to Gray, the US Supreme Court decision in United States v Windsor makes it clear that if a statute discriminates against some but not others classified under that statute in order to treat them differently, it violates equal protection.

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