Saturday, February 19, 2022



Federal Judge Tydingco-Gatewood

This morning slightly after 8.00am, after the Jury was seated, and the Judge sat down, the official proceedings about the Bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Agana started in a classic way, with the usual false conviviality showed by lawyers. 

Opening statement was done by the lead counsel for the creditors  Edwin H Caldie Partner of Stinson LLP Minneapolis' office. 

Mr Caldie is what is usually called a heavy weight in the field of bankruptcy representation for creditors's rights and Business litigation. 

BA in Psychology from the University of MN

JD (cum Laude) Boston University School of Law. 

Admitted to the Bar in Minnesota, Illinois and DC

In his statement Mr Caldie affirmed that he would show that the Church assets are one and whole. In his argument he used the Archbishop's own words in his remarks about the survivors back in 2017.

Not a very honest approach, but still efficient as far as creating confusion in the mind of the Jury

Following the  Creditor's lawyer's opening statement, it was  time for the defense of the Debtor to do the same. Archbishop Byrnes representing the Archdiocese was sitting quietly at the defense table  surrounded by his attorneys.

The defense held that contrary to the creditor's attorney claims, they would show that the legal situation of the properties at the center of the dispute, is far from being black and white, but rather had many different shades of Grey. They claimed that they would demonstrate their point

From the opening statements, it was very obvious to the spectators, that we are going to see a clash of culture, between Chamorro tradition and usual customs and the cold representatives of English common law, as brought forward by the lawyers hailing from the cold steppes of Minnesota. The style, approach, and logic could not have been more stark "from the get go".

Between a highly respectful culture of elders and wisdom holders versus the cold analysis of a Lutheran world, where these factors have little to do with facts.This is probably even more distorted by the experience the law firm of Stinson LLP has acquired litigating Catholic bankruptcy cases in Minnesota, (Crookston, Mpls/St Paul, Duluth) . The only cultural thing close to the Chamorro identity in Minnesota would be the Indian reservations which sprinkle the State of 10 thousand lakes. These two world do not mix well at all..

The proceedings are opened to the Public, and a few people were attending in person. It is also available on Zoom, where there were around a dozen people at the start of the proceeding. The zoom crowd grew to 33 at one time before settling around 28 persons until the Lunch recess.A few technnical glitches were experienced, but were resolved fairly quickly, with the judge apologizing to the viewers.

The first person called to the witness stand was Mr Christopher Felix a long time realtor on Guam.

Mr Felix was grilled politely, but relentlessly by Mr Caldie about how he was recruited to identify and evaluate properties for the Archdiocese, and by whom.

The intent here being that the Archbishop are controlling all the assets of the Church on the island, and that the hierarchy of responsibilities links everything and everyone to the Chancery.

What transpired from this examination, was that the Archbishop does sit on the Finance council, but is not the all powerful potentate described by Mr Caldie, the questions were mostly leading, but were not challenged often by the defense, who opted to do a sober but efficient cross examination under the hospices of Mr Talbot

What transpired was that the parishes had been standing on their own financially for decades, and that there had been very little reporting to the chancery of financial matter until it was initiated before the Bankruptcy filing, for reasons of findings and identifications.

The Creditor's attorney included several exhibits in evidence to his arguments.

Redirection of question of Mr Felix continued, and tried to establish the fact that the Archbishop was fully in charge of assets.

Mr Felix resisted well to all the pressures of the Attorney. 

It was established that the Schools in Agat, the dominicans  in Yigo and Catholic charities were completely independant properties from the Archdiocese, other properties remaining to be determined.

After Mr Felix finished his testimony, it was time for the next witness Mr Benjamin Diaz.

Mr Caldie continued the examination of the witness until lunch recess.

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