News & Insights
Palau Supreme Court Justice Ashby Pate to Return to Lightfoot as Of Counsel
March 13, 2016
Former Lightfoot attorney Ashby Pate will be returning to Lightfoot as Of Counsel after stepping down from his current position as one of four justices on the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau.
Pate’s resignation will be effective April 1, 2016, and he will begin at Lightfoot the following week.
Appointed to the Court at the age of 34 by former President Johnson Toribiong, Pate is the youngest justice in the island nation's history. While in Palau, Pate presided over several hundred civil and criminal cases as a trial judge and served as a panelist on over 40 civil and criminal appeals on the nation's highest court. Notably, in 2014, Pate's order granting a writ of habeas corpus in In Re Angelino, which condemned the solitary confinement conditions in Palau's only correctional facility, garnered attention in the Asia-Pacific region and among noted international human rights advocates as an "impressive national court application of international human rights norms." He also presided over the widely publicized criminal prosecution of sitting Vice President Antonio Bells, as well as a longstanding boundary dispute between two northern Palauan states of Ngardmau and Ngeremlengui and numerous cases involving the application of traditional Palauan law.
Pate also helped establish Palau's first jury trial system in 2009, contributing to its enabling legislation and authoring Palau's first jury trial rules and juror handbook. As part of his continuing efforts to advance jury trials in Palau, in 2015, Pate spearheaded the American College of Trial Lawyers' 2015 Advanced Trial Advocacy Symposium in Palau, in which thirteen Fellows from the prestigious American College presented a three-day workshop for lawyers from Palau and Micronesia, including Guam, CNMI, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The Immediate Past President of the College, Francis M. Wikstrom, called the Symposium “one of the great accomplishments of the College.”
Most recently, Pate spoke at the 2016 ACTL’s Spring Meeting in Maui, Hawaii. The title of his speech was “Be the Light," in which Pate recounted the success of the ACTL symposium in Palau and challenged the College to continue to commit to champion pro bono work of the kind the College accomplished in Palau.