FSM SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Estate of Mori v. Chuuk,12 FSM Intrm. 24 (Chk. 2003)
[12 FSM Intrm. 24]
ESTATE OF JOHNNY MORI et al.,
STATE OF CHUUK, ERADIO WILLIAM, KAPIER
KAMERINO, and KASTINA KAMINO,
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1998-1000
JIM KUTTA, HALVERSON NIMEISA, RESAUO
MARTIN, ERADIO WILLIAM, STATE OF CHUUK,
FRANCIS RUBEN, and JOHNSON SILANDER,
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1992-1039
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM
Decided: July 29, 2003
Plaintiff: Stephen V. Finnen,Esq.
Law Offices of Saimon & Associates
P.O. Box 1450
Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
[12 FSM Intrm. 25]
For the Defendants: Ready Johnny, Esq.
Office of the Chuuk Attorney General
P.O. Box 189
Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
For the Garnishee: R. Anthony Welch, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
FSM Department of Justice
P.O. Box PS-105
Palikir, Pohnpei FM 96941
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A court may decide only the case before it, and may not render an advisory opinion. A request for clarification that asks the court to opine on facts not before it, will be denied. Estate of Mori v. Chuuk, 12 FSM Intrm. 24, 26 (Chk. 2003).
In any case brought under 11 F.S.M.C. 701 et seq., a plaintiff must prove each element of his case by the preponderance of the evidence. In the case of a stipulated judgment under a settlement agreement, an equally basic jurisprudential principle dictates that a stipulated judgment will be entered only if it is well grounded both in law and in fact. Estate of Mori v. Chuuk, 12 FSM Intrm. 24, 26 (Chk. 2003).
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MARTIN YINUG, Associate Justice:
On July 21, 2003, the FSM in Davis submitted by fax its response to this court's order of July 17, 2003, and asked leave to file the response by fax. Good cause appearing, the motion is granted, and the clerk will accept the faxed copy for filing. Further, the order directed that the requested information in response to the July 17, 2003, order be filed in both of these cases, but it was not. Accordingly, the clerk is directed to place a copy of the July 21, 2003 response in Davis in the Mori file as well.
On the question of filing by fax, where papers are submitted by fax, originals must always follow by mail or through other means of delivery. For purposes of maintaining court files, originals are always preferred over faxed copies. The court requests that any future motion to file by fax recite the date of mailing the original to the court.
In its July 21, 2003, response at unnumbered 4, the FSM states as follows:
In each of the matters before the Court, the Court found that the FSM statute at issue was unconstitutional as applied to the facts in the individual cases. The FSM interprets those decisions to mean that: Where the FSM Supreme Court finds, as a matter of law,
[12 FSM Intrm. 26]
that a State has committed a tort though its violation of the civil rights of an individual and because of the efforts of that State, the judgment of the FSM Supreme Court cannot be satisfied, then title 6 F.S.M.C. 707 cannot constitutionally be applied to protect the funds of that State that are held in an account by the National Government. Clarification of the language is important, should the Court be persuaded that the statute in question is constitutional. Allegations of denial of due process and equal protection are easily crafted into complaints against governmental entities. Moreover, the legal conclusion of counsel whether a statement of facts found in a complaint constitute such a violation, invades the duties and obligations of a presiding judge and is certainly not as trustworthy.
Thus, the FSM's concern is that a litigant in some future case, by relying on the post-judgment orders in the two cases at bar, may seek to insure that his judgment against Chuuk is collectible by shoehorning the facts of his case into a claim for a civil rights violation.
A court may decide only the case before it, and may not render an advisory opinion. Fritz v. National Election Dir., 11 FSM Intrm. 442, 444 (App. 2003); FSM v. Louis, 9 FSM Intrm. 474, 481 (App. 2000) (not the province of the court to issue policy pronouncements based on hypothetical or academic questions); In re Sproat, 2 FSM Intrm. 1, 5 (Pon. 1985) (jurisdiction of court limited to justiciable controversy). To the extent that the FSM seeks clarification by having this court opine on facts not now before it, that request is denied. At the same time, it is only stating basic principles to say that in any case brought pursuant to 11 F.S.M.C. 701 et seq., a plaintiff must prove each element of his case by the preponderance of the evidence. In the case of a stipulated judgment under a settlement agreement, an equally basic jurisprudential principle dictates that a stipulated judgment will be entered only if it is well grounded both in law and in fact. See, e.g., Rosokow v. Chuuk, 7 FSM Intrm. 507, 508-9 (Chk. S. Ct. App. 1995) (affirming the trial court's rejection of defendant Chuuk's $80,000 offer of judgment to plaintiff under Chuuk Civil Rule 68 where plaintiff had demonstrated a monetary loss of no more than $700 for a small crack in house floor caused by installation of sewer line, and where plaintiff had had to clear certain land himself after plaintiff had granted an easement for installation of the sewer line in return for Chuuk's promise to clear certain land that Chuuk subsequently failed to clear).
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