September 11, 2012
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo this morning appointed Attorney Maria Teresa Bonifacio Cenzon Superior Court of Guam Judge. She has been serving as the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel.
Judge-nominee Cenzon began practicing law in 1996, when she clerked at Barcinas & Terlaje, P.C. A year later she became Partner in the commercial transactions division of Mair, Mair, Spade & Thompson, P.C. She practiced several aspects of the law for more than 10 years at the firm before becoming Partner at Cabot Mantanona, LLP in 2008, then Carlsmith Ball, LLP in 2009.
In 2010 Judge-nominee Cenzon became Director of Policy, Planning & Community Relations for the Unified Judiciary of Guam. Governor Calvo appointed her Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel in late 2011 following the departure of then-Chief Legal Counsel James L. Canto II to his seat on the Superior Court of Guam bench.
Judge-nominee Cenzon is a 1987 alumnae of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and minoring in business administration, criminology and philosophy in 1992 from Marquette University. She then attended the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she received her law degree in 1996.
She immediately returned home to begin her legal career.
This daughter of Guam and of Ed and Nita Cenzon of Dededo later started her own family. She is the proud mother of Amalia and Rick Duenas. She is also the loving sister of Ed & Julie Cenzon, and Joe Cenzon.
Governor Calvo’s appointment letter explaining his reasons for appointing Judge-nominee Cenzon follows:
                                          September 11, 2012
Honorable Judith T. Won Pat, Ed.D.
I Mina Trentai-unu na Liheslaturan Guahan
155 Hesler Place
Hagatna, Guam 96910
Dear Madam Speaker,
It is with a deep sense of duty I appoint Maria Teresa Bonifacio Cenzon Superior Court of Guam Judge. This is a bittersweet appointment for the Office of the Governor. Her appointment assures the Court the best-qualified person was selected; though, this surely leaves a void in my office that will be hard to fill.
I selected Judge-nominee Cenzon to be my Chief Legal Counsel without knowing anything more than the reputation that preceded her. I understood she was a competent attorney who practiced various aspects of the law. Her resume was impressive. I even took notice of her charitable work. There was no doubt she was qualified to serve as Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel.
It became quite clear in her first few days in the office that her qualifications stemmed far beyond what was in her resume. Judge-nominee Cenzon exhibited a passion for the law and for justice. Clearly she believed she could make a difference in the lives of others through her practice. I am not a lawyer, nor am I well versed on the methods and practices of attorneys; however, Judge-nominee Cenzon was eager to translate how her work yielded solutions for real, everyday people whom we serve.
I doubt I ever had to explain to her the attitude and essence of my administration. Judge-nominee Cenzon understood from the very beginning who we serve and why we come to work each day. I don’t think it was something she adapted to, either. After working with her all these months, I firmly believe she grasped our culture of service simply because it is ingrained in her being as well.
Every case she looked over, every report back about proceedings in Court was always centered on the good of the people we were trying to help. It was important to her that the consumers of Mental Health receive the best care they could, especially where there was no one else to care for a human being who happens to live with a severe disability. She would become stern at bad policy decisions that led to negative consequences for children, the elderly, and the neediest in our community. She was committed to our efforts to pay tax refunds in a timely manner, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because she saw the desperation of the Guamanians who came to our office for help, and she wanted them to have their money back.
Judge-nominee Cenzon never was one to sugar coat an issue. She didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear or bend an opinion wherever it was politically expedient. She gave me sound advice based on legal principle, and she explained it to me and the rest of my staff. I admire that about her. I appreciate how she could agree and disagree with her peers, all the while working together professionally and toward common goals.
She worked collaboratively with others, confident in her field of work yet humble in her position. She viewed herself as a team player and stayed in the background to quietly do her work.
I understand that sitting on the Superior Court bench is an indication of one’s qualifications and contributions to the legal profession and the island. There is absolutely no doubt Judge-nominee Cenzon meets these qualifications and has contributed more than many in her long career as an attorney. These qualifications and considerations of one’s life work aren’t all I see when I think about a Judge.
The Judgeship is perhaps the most prestigious of leadership positions in the government. One is not elected by the whims of popularity or political campaign. There are no commercials for re-election, and the integrity of those serving on the bench hardly ever comes under question. I think this is because we, as citizens, expect much more of our Judges. We hold them in high regard and respect, and rightly so. Judges are removed from the politics and the popularity contests. We entrust them to administer justice blindly and with true regard for the law.
This perhaps illustrates the greatest reasons why I am appointing Judge-nominee Cenzon to the Court. She is a compassionate woman, devoted to her family, pure of heart, and with unquestionable ethics and integrity. She is someone children can look up to and aspire to be. She is a role model, whose character is unassailable and whose judgment can always be trusted.
I appreciate the legislature’s consideration of my appointment. I know a process now begins to properly consider my appointment. I ask that the legislature act swiftly and unanimously confirm Judge-nominee Cenzon to the Superior Court of Guam bench.
Thank you and God bless you and your colleagues on the deliberation ahead.
                                          EDDIE BAZA CALVO
Cc:       Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam
Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of Guam
Chairman, legislative committee on the Judiciary
Members, I Mina Trentai-unu na Liheslaturan Guahan
President, Guam Bar Association

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