CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Phillip v. Phillip,
9 FSM Intrm. 226 (Chuuk S. Ct. Tr. 1999)

[9 FSM Intrm. 226]

ARTHER PHILLIP et al.,
Plaintiffs,

vs.

KENCHY PHILLIP et al.,
Defendants.

CSSC CIVIL ACTION NO. 115-99

ORDER DISMISSING CASE

Machime O'Sonis
Associate Justice

Decided:  September 20, 1999

[ 9 FSM Intrm. 227]

APPEARANCES:
For the Plaintiffs:          Hans Wiliander, trial counselor
                                       P.O. Box 389
                                       Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

For the Defendants:     Wesley Simina, Esq.
                                       P.O. Box 94
                                       Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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HEADNOTES
Courts
     Cases pending in a municipal court may be transferred to the Chuuk State Supreme Court trial division upon the request of any party and by order of the Chuuk State Supreme Court trial division.  There is no authority for a municipal judge to transfer a case, sua sponte, to the Chuuk State Supreme Court without the request of any party.  Phillip v. Phillip, 9 FSM Intrm. 226, 228 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1999).

Elections
     An election contest is purely a constitutional or statutory proceeding.  At common law there was no right to contest in a court any public election, the theory being that elections belong to the political branch of the government, beyond the control of judicial power.  Phillip v. Phillip, 9 FSM Intrm. 226, 228 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1999).

Elections
     All provisions of the Chuuk Election Law of 1996 apply to all elections in the State of Chuuk, including municipal and national elections whenever applicable unless otherwise specifically provided.  Phillip v. Phillip, 9 FSM Intrm. 226, 228 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1999).

Elections
     When a voter contests any election he must file a written complaint with the Chuuk Election Commission.  If the contestant is dissatisfied with the Commission's decision, appeal to the Chuuk State Supreme Court appellate division can be had, and if the contestant is dissatisfied with the Chuuk State Supreme Court appellate division's decision, appeal to the FSM Supreme Court can be had.  The Chuuk State Supreme Court trial division is without jurisdiction to hear an election contest.  Phillip v. Phillip, 9 FSM Intrm. 226, 228 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1999).

*    *    *    *

COURT'S OPINION
MACHIME O'SONIS, Associate Justice:
     This election contest case comes before the Court after notice and hearing on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Case for the stated reason that this Court lacks jurisdiction to proceed on the record in the case.

     Also, the record of the case indicates that there was an attempt to transfer this matter from the Oneop Municipal Court to the Chuuk State Supreme Court Trial Division.  Such a transfer can only be

[9 FSM Intrm. 228]

done under the provisions of 19 of the Judiciary Act of 1990, which states as follows:  "Section 19.  Transfer of Cases:  Any case pending in a municipal court may be transferred to the Trial Division of the State Supreme Court upon the request of any party and by order of the Trial Division of the State Supreme Court." Chk. S.L. No. 190-08, 19 (emphasis added).

     There is nothing in the record to show that either party in this case requested a transfer of the case from the Oneop Municipal Court to the Trial Division of the State Supreme Court.  This Court is unable to locate any authority for the Oneop Municipal Judge to transfer the case, sua sponte, without "the request of any party."  Therefore, it is clear that the attempts of the Oneop Municipal Judge to transfer this case to the State Supreme Court are a nullity.  Also, Section 19, supra, is clear to the effect that such a transfer can only be done "by order of the Trial Division of the State Supreme Court."  No such order is in the record.

     The Plaintiff has filed a Complaint in the Trial Division of the Chuuk State Supreme Court alleging essentially the same objections to the Municipal Election held on August 3, 1999, in the Oneop Municipality for the election of Municipal Officials.  It is not necessary for this Court to review these factual allegations to reach the decision herein.

     The issue raised by the Defendants' Motion is one of law as to whether the Trial Division has jurisdiction to hear the case.  The Trial Division has previously adopted on many occasions, the rule set out in 26 Am. Jur. 2d Elections 316 (1966) as follows:  "An election contest is purely a constitutional or statutory proceeding.  At common law there was no right to contest in a court any public election, the theory being that elections belong to the political branch of the government, beyond the control of judicial power . . . ."  See Mathew v. Silander, 8 FSM Intrm. 560, 562 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1998).

     The question now turns to whether there is a statutory or constitutional procedure for the contest of the election here being considered.  Section 148 of the Chuuk State Election Law of 1996 provides in part:  "All the provisions of this act apply to all elections in the State of Chuuk, including municipal and national elections whenever applicable unless otherwise specifically provided."  Chk. S.L. No. 3-95-26, 148 (emphasis added).

     Section 126 of the Election Law states:  "Section 126.  Complaint by Contestant. When a voter contests any election he shall file with the Chuuk Election Commission a written complaint . . . ."  Id. 126.

     This Court has reviewed the Oneop Ordinances relative to elections and finds nothing to indicate an intent to provide any procedure other than that made available in the Chuuk State Election Law of 1996 for the contest of elections. Therefore the Court finds that the provisions of State Law must be followed to contest the election held in the Oneop Municipality on August 3, 1999.

     As stated in 126, the contestant must first file a written complaint with the Chuuk Election Commission.  If the contestant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commission, appeal to the Appellate Division of the Chuuk State Supreme Court can be had pursuant to 130 of the Election Law and if the contestant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Appellate Division of the Chuuk State Supreme Court, appeal to the Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia can be had pursuant to 138 of the Election Law.

     Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court finds that it is without jurisdiction to consider any matters raised in the attempted transfer of the case from the Oneop Municipal Court as well as the Plaintiff's Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss all such proceedings is due to be granted, and it is so ordered.