Honorable Frances Marie Tydingco Gatewood


Honorable Frances Marie Tydingco Gatewood

Associate Justice
Sworn in February 8, 2002


Frances Tydingco-Gatewood’s roots and ties to the island run deep and strong. She was born January 21, 1958 on the island of Oahu, Hawaii and raised on Guam. She is of Chamoru and Pohnpeian descent. The most significant person and source of support for Frances’ legal career has been her husband of 24 years, Dr. Robert Gatewood and her three sons, Daniel, Michael and Stephen. Dr. Robert Gatewood is a practicing periodontist on island. She also has received much support and encouragement from her parents and in-laws: the late Daniel J. Tydingco and Francesca S. Tydingco, the late Arthur and Ruth Gatewood of New Mexico and other family members.


After graduating from George Washington Senior High School, in Mangilao, Guam in 1976, Frances obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1980 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Guam’s Professional Technical Scholarship.


The goal of becoming a lawyer began in 1980 for Frances at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law where she obtained her Juris Doctorate law degree in 1983. Although receiving a law degree proved to be a personal milestone for Frances Gatewood, giving birth to her eldest son, Daniel, while in law school remains unforgettable not only for the joy of having him, but also for strengthening her belief in family values and support as she struggled to balance the roles of being a wife, law student and mother.


Frances’ first legal foray was as the law clerk for the Honorable Forest W. Hanna, Presiding Judge of the Jackson County Circuit Courts in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1983 to 1984.


From 1984 to 1988, Frances became the first Chamoru woman assistant attorney general here on Guam. During this time period, she earned a reputation for being a tough, yet fair prosecutor. She prosecuted many major felonies including murder, robbery, rape and drug cases.
She was an assistant prosecutor with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Missouri from 1988-1990. During this time, Frances prosecuted major felony cases including homicides and drugs and served as the Trial Team Leader for the Sex Crimes Unit. She supervised several attorneys and staff members while serving as the Trial Team Leader.
In 1990, Frances returned home to become Guam’s first Chamoru woman Chief Prosecutor and served in that capacity until 1994. She supervised many lawyers and staff of the Prosecution Division while at the same time handling a substantial felony case load.
She worked as a designated Federal Prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Offices on Guam from 1985-1988 and 1990-1994 and in Kansas City, Missouri from 1989-1990.


In 1994, Frances was appointed to a trial judge position in the Superior Court of Guam by then-Governor Joseph F. Ada who recognized her fairness and tireless dedication in seeking justice as Guam’s Chief Prosecuting Attorney. The appointment of Frances Tydingco-Gatewood is a source of much pride for our island community because as a daughter of Guam, she is its first Chamoru woman judge. The 22nd Guam Legislature unanimously confirmed Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to the Superior Court. Judge Gatewood has authored hundreds of decisions and orders as a trial judge. She has presided over numerous cases including high profile criminal cases, multi-party complex civil litigation cases, family court, juvenile court, traffic court, and probate matters. She presided over the most complex civil litigation trial (Royal Palm Resort lawsuit) in the Pacific Rim. This particular trial has took place in one of the most technologically advanced courtrooms in the world.


In addition to her local trial experience of seven and a half years at the Superior Court of Guam, Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, also possesses federal judicial trial experience. For the past ten years, she has served as a designated federal judge for the District Court of Guam. Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Honorable Mary Schroeder recently reappointed Frances to this position.


On September 1, 2001, then Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez appointed Judge Tydingco-Gatewood to an Associate Guam Supreme Court Justice position. In tapping her to serve on the island’s high court, Governor Gutierrez recognized Judge Tydingco-Gatewood’s dedication to jurisprudence as a litigator and jurist. He echoed the overwhelming support she received from her peers in the legal community and noted those attributes, including her civic and community contributions as the key factors in appointing her to the Supreme Court bench. The 26th Guam Legislature unanimously confirmed Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to the Supreme Court. Prior to her appointment to the Guam Supreme Court and while serving as a Superior Court Judge Frances also served as a designated associate Supreme Court Justice for the Guam Supreme Court in cases of conflict for approximately three years. She was also appointed by the Honorable Chief Justice of the CNMI, Miguel Demapan to serve as a designated Associate Justice for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. She currently serves in this position in cases of conflicts.
Today, Justice Tydingco-Gatewood serves as an associate justice with fellow justice Robert J. Torres under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Guam, the Honorable F. Philip Carbullido. For the past three and a half years she has authored numerous opinions.


Justice Tydingco-Gatewood was appointed by Chief Justice Carbullido to chair the following seven Guam Supreme Court sub-committees: Proposed Criminal Jury Instructions, Criminal Indigent Defense, Pro Se Litigation, Crime Victim and Witness Protection, Board of Law Examiners Drafting and Grading, Alternative Dispute Resolution-Mediation for contested child custody cases and Judicial, Attorney, and Community Education. The committees are dedicated to the development of initiatives for the improvement of the administration of justice.

Justice Tydingco-Gatewood also serves as a co-chairperson on the three branch Family Violence Task Force with the Governor’s Legal Counsel, Shannon J. Taitano and Senator Lou Leon Guerrero of the Guam Legislature.
Justice Tydingco-Gatewood also serves as co-chairperson for the Pacific Judicial Council Education Committee. The committee is dedicated to improving the education of all justices, judges and courts staff for Guam, the CNMI, Palau, American Samoa, Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia including Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap.