Special Assistant to the Chief Justice

“Acting” Deputy Admin. Director

Acting MIS Director

Acting Chief Archivist

“ALPHA” of the Judiciary 

Republic of Palau

Dechol:

Never in my senior years have I seen the Judiciary make headlines like it has these past weeks. These are truly unprecedented times for this once revered Branch.

First of all, let me be clear – this letter is not intended to “slander” you and I am definitely not writing it simply because I do not agree with the current Judiciary administration, that is, the Chief Justice and yourself. I write because as a member of the public, I am affected by how the Judiciary operates, the decisions it makes, and how the employees perform their duties. How YOU do your job not only affects the Judiciary internally, particularly the staff, but can affect the Judiciary as an institution, and worse, the public. Moreover, I find it very disturbing that you are able to carry on as if all is swell and the cries of the Judiciary staff are viewed as mere slandering and are being dismissed. 

In this letter, I write what I have personally seen and heard (from members of the public) about you and the Judiciary, to show that there really is a serious problem we face with the Judiciary and things have to change. Most, if not all, of these stem from YOU.  

In your current capacity, you have managed to destroy the Judiciary’s reputation. With your position, you have only looked out for your personal interests and gains, and those of the few who adhere to your preposterous management. You do not have any sort of accountability but hide behind the Chief Justice and your conducts have subjected him to ridicule and questions by the public. Consider the letter by the “ghost writer” and the fact that YOU did not respond to the media and did not issue a statement. Instead, you ran to the Chief Justice. These should be enough grounds to have you removed from this position you are holding. 

Through the years, in various capacities and through relationships, personal and professional, I have been able to, let’s just say, observe the Court closely. I knew the Special Assistants to the former Chief Justice and those who held the position of Deputy Administrative Director, following Mr. Murret’s tenure as the Administrative Director. And I will say that you, Dechol, have made quite a “reputation” for yourself – and be assured, it is not a good one.

Below, I list some of your blatant dismissal of the Judiciary’s Personnel Rules and Regulations and the Code of Conduct. It is rather clear that your willingness to flout court policies and practices knows no bounds.

Judiciary’s Personnel Rules and Regulations:

Part IV: 4.1 Authorized Positions. No person shall be appointed to any position until and unless that position has been properly established, classified, and authorized for recruitment.

4.3. Examination Notices. As vacancies occur or are anticipated, examinations for recruitment shall be announced and posted in appropriate places and shall be given the widest publicity justified for the vacancy.

Part VI. Certification of Eligible Candidates. For the purpose of filling vacancies in the Judiciary Position Classification Plan, the Administrative Director shall certify a list of the five highest eligible candidates…. No person shall report to work nor receive a salary unless he has been previously certified on an appropriate eligibility list by the Administrative Director and selected by the Chief Justice.

·         Neither your current position nor Keith Ngirchomlei’s followed the above. It can be argued that they were simply created based on your own desire.  

We have not seen any vacancy announcements for the Deputy Administrative Director (DAD) position, MIS Director, and Chief Archivist. Meanwhile, the Judiciary’s website lists none other than yourself as the acting person for all the positions. Is this a devised plan for you to automatically assume these positions after a certain period of time? Are you THAT hungry for power and authority?

I know, from previous vacancy announcements, that the DAD position requires at least a Bachelor’s degree, which you do not have. As far as I know, you do not have ANY degree and your work experience is limited to the few years at the Judiciary. Thus, you are not even eligible for this position. The Judiciary has a handful of employees who have been there way longer than you and who are certainly more courteous and professional than you. These employees have actually worked hard to earn the positions they have (or had).Why hasn’t one of them assumed this position? What makes you so special and entitled to this very powerful position? And let me add here – the turnover rate for the Judiciary has probably reached an all-time high these past couple years. Anyone with experience in business knows that a high turnover rate is an indication of poor management and toxic environment, to name a couple. This begs the question – are you doing a clean up so you can have only new employees and, thus, making it easier to exert power and control over them?      

Judiciary Code of Conduct:

“Court employees hold positions of public trust and should be committed to the highest standard of conduct. Court employees shall observe these standards of conduct to preserve the integrity and independence of the judiciary.”

CANON 1: A COURT EMPLOYEE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY AND OF THE COURT EMPLOYEE’S OFFICE.

A court employee should personally observe high standard of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the Judiciary are preserved and the Court employee’s office reflects a devotion to serving the public. A Court employee should require adherence to such standards by employees subject to his or her discretion and control.”

·   You have apparently solicited services and advice from the Office of the Attorney General. THIS IS INSANE!!! How does this uphold the Judiciary’s integrity and independence?!!

·    “…devotion to serving the public.” – Two examples that demonstrate lack of such devotion: 1) Jury Trial: What is supposed to be an opportunity for citizens to fulfill a civic duty has become a big nuisance. The process is DISORGANIZED and IGNORES people’s needs. You FORCE people with disabilities, those who are sole caretakers of kids or ailing parents to court when the statute clearly states that individuals can be excused if participation can cause hardships. And by the way, were you not in charge of the jury trial before? If you were not able to handle that, what makes you think you are qualified to the position you hold now?    

2) Clerk of Court’s Service Window: To simply obtain a birth certificate or notary service takes forever as we have to wait in line, in a confined, hot hallway, to go to the service window. So, you go to omengat and funerals without masks and return to your offices where you do not wear masks, and still, you will make the public wait outside to go to a service window?!! Complete absurdity! And do not try to blame these on the Clerk of Courts – these are on you!!

·   Your work ethics and conducts have, overtime, planted doubts in the public regarding the Judiciary’s integrity.

CANON 2. A COURT EMPLOYEE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPREITY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES

A. A court employee shall not use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for the employee or any other person.

·      You utilize the Chief Justice’s vehicle and driver as if they were your own.

·      A marshal drives you to work in Ngerulmud, when the rest of the staff either go by their own or ride the designated employees’ vehicle.

·      A marshal drives you to do your shopping, yes, during working hours.

·      A marshal drives you to pick up your daughter from school. **Anyone can guess which marshal shares these privileges with you.**

·      You bring your daughter to work with you, both in Ngerulmud and in Koror. (Many parents make a lot less than you and struggle to make ends meet, and yet they find ways to secure childcare.)

·      See also listed incidents under Canon 3 below.

CANON 3. A COURT EMPLOYEE SHOULD ADHERE TO APPROPRIATE STANDARDS IN PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF OFFICE.

F. A court employee shall uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the Republic of Palau and never be a party to their evasion.

·      You conspired with Keith Ngirchomlei to cover up his commission of a crime when he attempted to strike a restrained defendant and in doing so struck and injured Tarkong Beches. 

·   Being focused on protecting Keith Ngirchomlei, you failed to address the needs of the true victim – Tarkong Beches – which led to his further suffering.

·   This was Keith Ngirchomlei’s second incident of similar nature (attacking restrained defendants) and yet you failed to subject him to any form of disciplinary actions until the Tarkong Beches incident became public. (Why is he still a marshal?!)

The above should be enough “evidence and supporting facts” of your ineptitude and to show that a staff’s cry for help due to your actions are more than just a mere disagreement of your administration. However, let’s add a couple more things to show just how incapable you are of this duty, and that you run the operations of the Judiciary in accordance to your personal feelings.

·   You sat on employees’ yearly increments for months without any justification or explanation when the Rules and Regulations clearly states that “…within-grade or step increase shall be effective on the first pay period…” and that the “…Administrative Director is responsible for ensuring that within-grade salary increase are initiated on a timely basis…”  

·   The Judiciary currently lacks law clerks. This is a first! And yes, this is on YOU! What does this, and the bad experiences of former court counsels, mean for the Palau Judiciary’s reputation outside of Palau? What is its implications for Palauans with pending cases? Your incompetence has cost the Judiciary a valuable team. Having court counsels is more than just filling up positions. This is a part of a long-standing process AND Palau Judiciary’s relationship with US Courts. There have been former court counsels who returned to Palau and worked obviously because of a great experience at the Judiciary. The Judiciary will be lucky if it can hire future law clerks.

Dechol, it would be best for the Judiciary if you RESIGNED IMMEDIATELY!

As employees and through our work and performance, we should portray a positive image for our superiors and the agency we work for. This is how the public gets to trust the agency. This was the case during Ngiraklsong’s tenure. I remember a time when rechad ra beluu (me included) were making jokes about how the Judicairy “a kora communist,” but the truth was the Judiciary was revered for its strong ethics and adherence to work policies. Today, sadly, what is whispered amongst the rechad ra beluu are things like “Tial Court ng mekeskelang?” or “Ngeral chelid a mla soiiseb ra Court el churcherur?” These comments reflect YOUR management. And do you know what is being said about you? That you have “brainwashed” CJ Ngiraikelau to where he believes and trusts in you, and you alone. That YOU have “mekelii ra kelel a malek” or “locha temall er ngii” [applied Palau traditional magic]. And worse, that there is a “special relationship” between you two. I cannot even bring myself to write it but I believe you know what I mean. Now, these are serious allegations, yes. But, when people cannot fathom things, they find explanations that make sense in their minds. It truly is mind-boggling that the Chief Justice has been blind to all your transgressions and seems to be defending you and prioritizing your wants all the while being blind and deaf to the rest.

There does not seem to be an open-door policy at the Judiciary. Sel dorrenges e ng KAU a melenget ra chesmerel a Chief Justice. No one gets to him without going through you. And it also seems that you twist things up when you go to him. Moreover, you have demonstrated in various instances your ability to retaliate against staff, and to be confrontational rather than receptive. So while there is indeed a grievance process as set forth in the Judiciary’s Rules and Regulations, what staff, in their right mind, will bring their grievances, or complaints about you directly to you or to the Chief Justice? And, why would a staff do this and subject him/herself to your wrath and face suspension, termination, delay of yearly increments, etc? It seems it is better to do everything in pretense and gain your favor than be on the opposite side from you. Meng ngeral grievance process a sebechel mo tekoi? Perhaps this whole thing can only be resolved through the court of public opinion. And this writer’s opinion is that the best solution is for you to resign.

Why do I think you should resign? Because every problem stems from YOU; the Chief Justice is not directly involved in administrative matters and his big mistake and failure is entrusting you with everything. You are not capable to hold these various positions. You are not even qualified. You lack solid work ethics and do not care for the employees. You have not demonstrated any effort to ensuring or promoting staff’s success, growth, and productivity. Your management has caused division rather than unity within the Judiciary. You only look out for your interests and those who choose not to oppose you. The only success you have had since assuming this position is hurting the integrity of the Judiciary, and the Chief Justice, and subjecting them to mockery and disdain.

Furthermore, the damage has been done – ng mla mo chemolt a delikikengel a Judiciary. Trusts have been broken. Who can the staff turn to for help? How can we be certain that you can actually resolve this in a professional matter, and by being accountable to your own actions, rather than playing victim here? How do we know that you are not currently expending the Judiciary’s resources in investigating the identity of the “ghost writer” and devising some retaliatory action against him/her? And, how are we to trust that you can all work together to serve the public’s interests? Since the publication of that letter, what have you done to try to address the issue, aside from the obvious – running to hide behind the Chief Justice once again which led to his writing a response to the newspapers?

Dechol, if you have any decency left in you, walk away. Own your mistakes and resign. You have enjoyed the power and fame long enough. Get off your high horse. Do not play victim here. It is time to make your exit and let the Judiciary restore its reputation. If you have any love for yourself, resign. Save your family name and resign. If you want to show that your God is real, and that you are a “Christian” then resign. Do not think for a minute that what is happening now – these letters directed at you a otechel a diabelong, because it is what YOU are doing that is the work of the devil!

How can you sleep at night knowing you have, and continue to affect and HURT so many lives? How does it not bother you that the Judiciary’s integrity is being questioned because of your actions? How can you live with a clear conscience? If you remain, the Judiciary’s reputation will continue to deteriorate; the public’s distrust will continue to increase; and you will cause irreparable harm and damage. How are you going to live with that? Save yourself and RESIGN!

Dechol, you are NOT qualified for this job; you are NOT competent; your ludicrous management must end to prevent further damage and pain to many.

Mesulang.

Concerned Citizen

(Opinions expressed here belong to the contributing authors and do not reflect opinions of Island Times editorial staff or management.)

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