President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr has appointed two longtime attorneys for the position of Associate Justices of the Palau Supreme Court – Appellate Division.
In a separate letter to both appointees on 18 August, Remengesau formally appointed John K. Rechucher and Barrie Michelsen to fill the open seat in the appellate division of the newly restructured Palau Supreme Court.
“In accordance, with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Palau, and more particularly the Fourteenth Amendment and RPPL 9-46, it is my great pleasure to inform you of your appointment to the position of Associate Justice of the Palau Supreme Court,” Remengesau said in his judicial appointment letter.
John K. Rechucher
The appointments follows President Remengesau’s appointment of Oldiais Ngirakelau as Associate Justice of the Palau Supreme Court Trial Division on July 15, 2016.
John K. Rechucher was the top choice of the judicial nominating commission and the only Palauan who responded to the vacancy announcement for the Appellate Division.
Rechucher has spent more than 40 years as an attorney with most of them in private practice.
President Remengesau said he is confident that Rechucher’s extensive experience in law practice combined with his knowledge in customary law will be an asset to Palau’s highest court.
Rechucher holds the traditional title of Beouch, the first ranking chief in Ngardmau Village. He is expected to resign from his traditional title before assuming his position as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Michelsen is not new to Palau, he previously served as associate justice from 1996 – 2004. Prior to his time in Palau, he was a private attorney in Pohnpei for several years.
Remengesau said he brings to the court his “professional experience, in the South Pacific and elsewhere, and the highly regarded reputation you earned during your previous eight-year term as an associate justice in the Palau Supreme court.”
With the implementation of the 14th Constitutional Amendment, respective justices of the trial and appellate body are separated and not allowed to serve in both division. Currently Associate Justices could be assigned to serve as trial judges or to form a panel of judges in the appellate division to decide cases on appeal.
RPPL 9-46 is the budget law which gave funding for the implementation of the 14th amendment, which was approved by the voters in a 2008 referendum.