AMERICAN SAMOA COURT REPORT
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has granted a motion by private attorney Richard deSaulles to withdraw himself as counsel for Okesene Alo, one of the four DPS officers assigned to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Tafuna, who is facing various drug and sex charges.
During Alo’s hearing yesterday, deSaulles said there are several motions before the court pertaining to his client’s case, and some of them were made when Alo was represented by Sharron Rancourt, who is no longer practicing law locally.
One of the motions includes the motion to compel discovery. deSaulles explained that since last year, he’ s been asking the government to provide discovery for this case, including the statements by the 4 juveniles who are named as the alleged victims in the case against his client. The juveniles, according to the defense attorney, have criminal convictions.
deSaulles told the court that the government has led two separate criminal cases against his client and the discovery will help Alo get a fair trial.
He asked the court for an order to unseal all statements — made by the four alleged victims — now before Acting Associate Justice Elvis Patea, as it can help in his client’s defense.
Prosecutor Christy Dunn on the other hand told the court the discovery the defense is asking for has already been submitted to the court, and it’s now before Judge Patea.
She said Judge Patea has already informed the defense attorney that if they want to unseal the discovery, they need to seek an order from Chief Justice Kruse, because the discovery contains written statements from all four juveniles who are named as victims in the case against Alo.
Kruse said he understands why Judge Patea issued the order, saying it’s because Patea is concerned about safeguarding information pertaining to the juveniles.
Kruse is taking the motion under advisement.
For the second motion, deSaulles asked the court to withdraw him as the attorney for Alo, because he hasn’t received any payment for his services, and it’ s been months since he took the case.
He said he has already spoken to the Public Defender’s Office about taking over Alo’s case.
When asked by the court, Alo said he has already discussed the issue with his attorney, and he has informed him that payment will be made once his brother — who is a minister — returns to the territory this month.
deSaulles told the court that Alo promised him many months ago that payment would be made and to this day, he still hasn’t received any money.
Kruse informed Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui, who was in court, that he now has a new client.
Kruse then granted deSaulles’ motion to withdraw as counsel, and he informed Alo that the court has now appointed Fiaui as his new attorney.
The High Court is taking under advisement a motion from the government to revoke bail for defendant Elliott Siaumau. Prosecutor Christy Dunn told the court the government feels the defendant violated conditions of his release from a previous case that was filed last year.
According to Dunn, one of the conditions of release for the defendant when he was released on bond last year, was that he be a law-abiding citizen.
However, on Feb. 5, Dunn said the defendant was re-arrested and charged in the District Court with two misdemeanors: public peace disturbance and third degree assault.
She asked the court to revoke and forfeit the defendant’ s bond.
Siaumau’s attorney Douglas Fiaui opposed the motion, saying the allegation to revoke bond is based on evidence that was on a piece of paper but not solid evidence such as someone who can be sworn in to tell the court what happened.
Fiaui argued there is not sufficient evidence from the government to prove their motion, and for that reason, the motion must be denied.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse told Fiaui that it seems like he’s telling the court to go and do research, and the court is unhappy with his response.
Fiaui said he’s not asking the court to go and do research; instead, he’s asking them to deny the government’ s motion.
Dunn red back and said the government has a copy of the new complaint against the defendant, which can support their motion.
Kruse told Fiaui the court would review if the defendant is a danger to society and if this is the case, the court will consider that as an element in revoking his bond.