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Court Report



The High Court’s appellate session will begin on April 23, 2014 with six matters scheduled. The panel for the appellate session will be Chief Justice Michael Kruse, Associate Justices Lyle L Richmond, John Ward and Elvis Patea, Acting Associate Justices A Wallace Tashima and Dean Pregerson, and Associate Judges Suapaia Edmund Pereira, Satele Lili’o, Fa’amausili Pomele and Muasau Tasina Tofili.


According to the Appellate court, the matters slated are cases between (1) Progressive Insurance and the American Samoa Government, Progressive Insurance vs Estate of Johnathan Tagaloa, Jeffery Tagaloa; (2) Estate of Fatuputala Iona, Mr Iona, Faalogae Tagaloa, Nio Sane E Filo, Tamaiileupuia Tagoa’i, Rocky Safiti and National Pacific Insurance as workmen’s compensation insurer; (3) Eliota Siaumau Sr vs ASG; (4) Avamua Dave Haleck vs ASG; (5) August Viena vs Governor’s office, (former) Governor Togiola Tulafono, and (former) Director of HR and (6) the matter between Aiono Magalei and the Territorial Registrar, Tuia’ana Communal family, Ma’ataua Te’o, Lueli U Te’o, Melody Te’o-Oloa, Miriam I Te’o and Roy Hall Jr.




A man in his 20’s was convicted last week before a High Court jury of three women and three men of assaulting a Korean woman in connection with a robbery in Kokoland last year. The government charged Don Fred Bernard with robbery, stealing and third degree assault.


This matter was initially filed with the court with two suspects, however the second defendant has left the territory and has yet to return.


According to the prosecutor, Tony Graf, the government called five witnesses, including the store owner, the lead investigator Detective Amituana’i Filemoni and other police officers who responded to the robbery last year May, while the defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joel Shiver did not call any witnesses to testify.


According to Graf, the victim, who is one of the store owners, testified before the jury that the defendant dragged the victim by her hair into the store, and assaulted her by punching and kicking her and the defendant also threw the victim at the cash register and demanded money.


In the government’s case, it says during the course of the investigation, the Korean woman told police she and her husband were robbed and assaulted, in the middle of the night, by two men who covered their faces with their shirts, showing only their eyes. The woman further told police that one of the men was tall, the other was short, and it was the short man that she recognized as a customer.


She _also told police the shorter suspect smashed the front door window with a rock, while the taller individual reached in and unlocked the door. She alleged the shorter suspect came toward her, but she ran outside the store. She said the defendant came to her and pulled her by the hair and dragged her back into the store.


Court filings say, the defendant then called out to the woman by name and demanded that she get the money. The woman told police as soon as she recognized the short suspect, Don (Bernard), she begged him not to hurt her husband. She alleged the defendant demanded that she turn off the lights and then he started taking the cigarettes and other merchandise.




The High Court has rescheduled the case of Arthur Blake for another two weeks, after the court was informed by the Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui that he has in his possession the mental evaluation report conducted on the defendant.


Last month when this case came before the court for the pre-trial conference, the court ordered for a second time that the government have the defendant undergo a mental evaluation.  Blake had been arrested on June 23, 2013, surrounding the brutal attack which led to the death of Lopeti Lihua, a Tongan National. The incident occurred behind the golf course in Ili’ili.


Blake is charged with first degree murder — which carries the penalty of death, or life in prison without being eligible for probation or parole until a minimum of 40 years have been served.


During the case last week, Fiaui asked the court for additional time so he can go over the defendant’s evaluation prior to having anything filed on this case before the court. The evaluation was conducted to determine if the defendant is competent to stand trial and make his own decisions.


Blake, who’s held on bail of $500,000, is scheduled to reappear in court next month for his pretrial conference.


Court filings say the wife of the deceased informed police that she was surprised when her seven-year-old son came running into the house covered in blood, and when she ran outside her husband was lying there face down and motionless while Blake took off on foot. It's alleged that Blake had struck the defendant with a crowbar, causing his death.