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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

ELECTION CHALLENGE HEARING SET FOR NEXT WEEK

The Appellate Division of the High Court has set for next week a hearing on a motion to dismiss the election challenge filed against Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono and Florence V. Saulo in the Tualauta District No. 15 local House race.

The challenge was filed by two other Tualauta District15 candidates, Lucia Bartley and Esther Wall and the petitioners allege election fraud and ballot irregularities. One of the claims by the petitioners is that Saulo is a citizen of Samoa and therefore not eligible as a candidate for the Tualauta race.

Both Soliai and Saulo — through their respective attorneys — have responded, asking the appellate court to dismiss the election complaint due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The responders argue that the petitioners failed to challenge Saulo’s eligibility in accordance with the time frame outlined in local law.

Additionally, the petitioners had the opportunity to question the wording of the ballots before they were finalized and mass produced for the Nov. 6 general election.

The court has since set a hearing for 11 a.m. on Dec. 7.

Tualauta has two seats in the House of Representatives and unofficial results of the general election show incumbent Larry Sanitoa and Saulo received the highest votes — giving them the two seats.

REPEAT OFFENDER AUKUSITINO FANENE APPEARS IN HIGH COURT

The latest case against Aukusitino Fanene of Pago Pago is an alleged assault that occurred in his residence earlier this month. Fanene is charged with second degree assault and private peace disturbance.

The second degree assault is a class D felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both fine and imprisonment, while the PPD count is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 15 days in jail, a fine of $300 or both fine and jail term.

Fanene denied the charges against him when he was arraigned in the High Court yesterday morning, after he waived his rights to a preliminary examination in the District Court last week Friday.

This matter was heard before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judges, Mamea Sala Jr and Muasau Tasina Tofili. According to the government’s case, it was reported to police that an assault incident occurred on Nov. 17, 2012 in Pago Pago.

A witness told police that he observed the defendant strike the victim eight times with a folding chair on the head and body.

The alleged assault resulted in the victim suffering swelling and bruises to his head and left arm and causing substantial pain. The police took into evidence the steel folding chair that was allegedly used in the  assault. Pre-trial conference for the defendant is scheduled on Jan. 11, 2013.

JOVIAN TOLOA DENIES FELONY ASSAULT CHARGES

Jovian Toloa who’s facing second degree assault, public peace disturbance, and endangering the welfare of a child, entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him when he was arraigned in the High Court yesterday morning before Chief Justice Michael Kruse.

Toloa is charged together with Nisani Euini and a male juvenile, however the co-defendant’s cases are pending in District Court on misdemeanor charges.

The incident stemmed from a misunderstanding, where the victim was giving Toloa’s girlfriend a ride home, however Toloa and his co-defendants assumed the girl was in a relationship with the victim and allegedly assaulted the victim in his vehicle while his daughter was present.

Toloa is being held on bail of $5,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde. 

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST TITO MALAE SET FOR JURY TRIAL

Tito Malae, charged in connection with an assault case which is alleged to have occurred in Ili’ili over a land dispute, is fighting his case in a jury trial. Malae appeared before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judges Mamea Sala Jr and Muasau Tasina Tofili for his pre-trial conference, where he asked the court for a trial date through his lawyer Marcellus Talai Uiagalelei.

Malae, in his 50’s, is charged with assault second degree which is a felony, in addition to public peace disturbance, a misdemeanor. According to the government’s case Malae got into a verbal argument with another man over a land dispute and the argument escalated. It’s alleged the defendant struck the victim on the head three times with a rock.

The victim was taken to the hospital where he was treated for injuries to his head, which required 12 stitches. The defendant is out on surety bond of $5,000 and his jury trial is scheduled for July 9, 2012. Prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.

LEALOFI LAULU’S CASE RESOLVED WITH PLEA DEAL

The government’s case against Lealofi Laulu who’s charged with second degree assault and public peace disturbance will be resolved in a plea agreement. Laulu was arrested and charged on allegations that he struck another man’s face with a beer bottle during curfew.

The assault count is a class D felony which is punishable with up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both jail term and fine.

During the defendant’s pre-trial conference on Monday, his attorney Assistant Public Defender Mike White told the court that they have reached a plea agreement, however they have yet to file the proper paperwork in this matter.

The matter is now scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Jan. 11, 2013. According to the government’s case a man walked into the police station reporting that he was struck on the face by the defendant. The victim told police he approached the defendant and his friends to go home because it was close to village curfew time in Leone.

The government claims after the victim told the defendant, he was struck in the face with a beer bottle and then the defendant took off on foot.

The next day police went to the defendant’s house and apprehended him. The defendant told police that the victim struck him first with a plastic pipe and that’s what prompted him to punch the victim in the face. Prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.



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