Nguyen v. United States, 539 U.S. 69, 4 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

to the United States," the Organic Act of Guam created a territorial court, the District Court of Guam, and vested it with subject-matter jurisdiction over causes arising under both federal law and local law.3 Petitioners were tried before a jury, convicted, and sentenced in the District Court of Guam to lengthy prison terms for federal narcotics offenses. Petitioners do not dispute that court's jurisdiction to conduct their criminal trial and enter judgments of conviction.

As authorized by statute,4 petitioners appealed their convictions to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The panel convened to hear their appeals included the Chief Judge and a Senior Circuit Judge of the Ninth Circuit, both of whom are, of course, life-tenured Article III judges who serve during "good Behaviour" for compensation that may not be diminished while in office. U. S. Const., Art. III, 1. The third member of the panel was the Chief Judge of the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. That court is not an Article III court but an Article IV territorial court with subject-matter jurisdiction substantially similar

3 See Organic Act of Guam 22, 64 Stat. 389, 48 U. S. C. 1424. "The 'District Court of Guam' rather than 'United States District Court of Guam' was chosen as the court's title, since it was created under Art. IV, 3, of the Federal Constitution rather than under Art. III, and since 22 vested the court with original jurisdiction to decide both local and federal-question matters." Guam v. Olsen, 431 U. S. 195, 196-197, n. 1 (1977) (citing S. Rep. No. 2109, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., 12 (1950)). The Guam Legislature was authorized as well to create local courts and transfer to them jurisdiction over certain cases that otherwise could be heard by the District Court of Guam. See Olsen, 431 U. S., at 200-201 (citing Agana Bay Dev. Co. (Hong Kong) Ltd. v. Supreme Court of Guam, 529 F. 2d 952, 959 (CA9 1976) (Kennedy, J., dissenting)).

4 Title 28 U. S. C. 1294(4) provides: "[A]ppeals from reviewable decisions of the district and territorial courts shall be taken to the courts of appeals as follows:

. . . . . "(4) From the District Court of Guam, to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit."

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