HAGATNA, Guam — The musical world is all shook up by the revelation that the “King of Rock and Roll”, Elvis Presley, is still alive and sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court of Guam. Serving for the past 34 years, the former singer so successfully crafted his new life that he avoided notice by fans, reporters and jurists until now.
Appointed by Governor Ricardo Bordallo in 1977, Justice Presley’s initially did not plan on misleading fans into thinking he died. However, as he tried to find a way to break the news to the public, a chance set of circumstances set the wheels in motion and the Justice saw an opportunity for a clean slate.
“From what I figure, when President [Jimmy] Carter announced my appointment to the Supreme Court of Guam, some reporter said it was the death of my music career –somehow it quickly became ‘Elvis is dead’, at first as a joke,” explained Justice Presley with a chortle, “I admit I thought it was a pretty funny at the time.
“But then I realized the timing was perfect. It was now or never: I wanted to be taken more seriously so I really didn’t mind being declared dead and rising again like a judicial phoenix.” He paused. “Though I do wish the story they used to describe exactly how I died was a bit more, well, dignified.”
Given the fresh start, the former singer known as “The King” began serving the judicial needs of the island territory in earnest. Opting to emphasize his middle name to avoid undue attention, the Honorable Justice E. Aaron Presley, 76, arrived on the island without fanfare and quickly struck a rapport with his colleagues using honesty and down-home charm.
“At first we couldn’t believe that someone thought Elvis would be a good judge,” recalled longtime Court staff member Helen Tong, “but then he got here and we realized that he was not only totally serious about the job, but that he actually had a knack for judicial thinking. He managed to throw himself at his work while keeping on great terms with all of us. At that point we all decided to help keep his past private.”
The Justice’s finances, which remain robust thanks licensing, music sales, and events such as Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva Elvis” show in Las Vegas, allowed him to effectively buy his way out of the media spotlight. He continued to regularly visit Graceland, his former home turned museum, often after-hours or during times when it closed. He kept in touch with his family, though admits relations have been strained over the years.
Elvis scholars are quick to point out that the King’s interest in the law traces to earlier in his singing career. During a highly publicized 1970 meeting, he famously asked President Richard Nixon to make him an federal law enforcement agent. Governor Bordallo, remembering the event and sensing an opportunity to bring a big name to his island territory, made an open offer to the entertainer upon entering office in 1975. Two year, tired of touring and the burdens of fame, Justice Presley decided to join the Court.
Despite the long-term success in keeping his identity a secret, there have been a few close calls over the years. A notable incident took place when Justice Presley ran into former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi, a noted super fan, immediately recognized the Justice and stared awestruck upon laying eyes on him. Realizing the situation, the Justice sprung into action.
“I put my hand on [Koizumi]‘s shoulder,” he explained, “looked him in the eye with warm smile and, alongside a sly wink, told him ‘don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true’. He got the message and, after he hugged me, we parted ways.”
Despite his recent discovery and advanced age, Justice Presley indicates he harbors no interest in leaving his position.
“I may use the opportunity to speak a little more publicly about issues facing the judicial system here on the Territory, but I do not plan on returning to the entertainment industry.” He pointed to view from the window in his chambers. “Look out there. This is paradise. I can’t help falling in love with Guam.”