Former cop Raymond Noa seeks work release
The trial division of the High Court took under advisement a reconsideration motion filed by former Police Lieutenant Raymond Noa for work release.
Noa filed his motion pro se without the knowledge of his lawyer David Vargas, who then moved to withdraw as Noa’s counsel of record, which was granted by Chief Justice Michael Kruse.
Noa was found guilty of second-degree assault in an incident involving a man in Nu’uuli in 2010 and received a straight sentence of five years.
Noa told the court that he was sentenced to five years in jail and his former counselor, Vargas had already addressed the issue of work release. At the time of sentencing, Vargas had verbally asked the court about work release and the court had responded it should be taken up with the Tafuna Correctional Facility warden.
In his reconsideration motion, Noa says the TCF warden does not believe Noa is eligible for work release.
Noa explained to the court that he believes he is eligible for work release after serving six months pursuant to 46.2524(e) which states that “inmates serving sentences of more than a year but less than 28 months, become eligible after serving six months of such sentence”.
He added that he has met with Warden Maifea Lumana’i on several occasions pertaining to work release eligibility.
However, the Warden cites ASCA 46.2525(f) “inmates serving sentences of more than 28 months become eligible after serving one-third of such sentences.
Noa told the court that there are conflicting provisions of the law 46.2524(e) and 46.2525(f) in pertaining to work release and that statute 46.2525(f) does not apply directly to him.
In his motion filed with the court, Noa noted that he believes Warden Maifea has misinterpreted and misconstrued the statute and therefore his claim is clearly erroneous.
The motion goes on to say that Warden Maifea fails to take into consideration the parole statute ASCA 46.2304 that a “a sentence includes a prison term and a parole term.”
“A prison term for a class D felony for a five years sentence would be 20 months… The remainder is the parole term.
“Simply put either ASCA 46.2524 (f) is void because of vagueness and unconstitutional or Warden Maifea is discriminatory, prejudicial, in his lack of performance or failure of act and breach of duty.
“Parole and conditional probation statutes provide two alternative modes of sentencing, with the mandatory period of detention limited to one-third of the sentence in both cases, but conditional probation statute allowing the court to exercise greater control over the conditions of detention,” according to Noa’s motion.
In response, the government said the court has no jurisdiction over the issue of work release.
The government’s attorney, Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop told the court that the former police lieutenant received a straight sentence, and given that — he’s no longer under the court’s jurisdiction but is now under the jurisdiction of the Territorial Correctional Facility and the Department of Public Safety.
The Deputy AG added that she conducted research on case law and statutes that indicate with a straight sentence, Noa does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction.
Jessop told the court Noa’s work release issues should be addressed to Warden Maifea and Commissioner Tuaolo Manaia Fruean for consideration.
Chief Justice Kruse told Noa the court does not give legal advice, he should pay his lawyer David Vargas for legal advice and also told him the court does not run prisons.
Noa interrupted Kruse while he was speaking, which caused Kruse to fire back “Fa’akali, ga la’a e sosopo” (Wait, you’re overstepping your grounds) …“That’s probably why you’re having problems with the Warden.”
Kruse said Noa received a straight sentence and his appeal should be made to the executive branch.
He then said the court would take the matter under advisement.