Another overstayer faces American Samoa High Court
Pago Pago, American Samoa — An over-stayer who is serving a 28-month jail term at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) was in High Court last week for a probation review hearing.
Loimata Mika, 28, entered American Samoa on a 7-day visitor's permit in 2016. He was in the territory illegally for over 6 months before he was arrested on Aug. 1, 2016 after he entered a home and touched a sleeping female in a sexual manner.
During a hearing last week, Chief Probation Officer Malcolm Polu told the court that Mika has already served 20 months of his sentence.
Part of the court's sentencing order is that after serving 20 months behind bars, Mika's case can be considered during a review hearing.
After reviewing the Probation Office’s report and submissions from both counsels, Chief Justice Michael Kruse ordered that Mika be allowed to depart the territory and remain outside of American Samoa during his probation period.
Kruse did tell prosecutor Robert Morris that one of the concerns the court continues to have, is how these immigrants enter the territory on visitor's permits and continue to remain on island until they are caught breaking the law.
Kruse said the problem with over-stayers convicted of felonies continues to rise and the government needs to do something to stop it.
Mika was initially charged with one felony count of first-degree burglary and two misdemeanor counts of third degree assault and trespassing. However, under a plea agreement, the government amended the burglary charge to second-degree assault — a lesser felony charge — and the misdemeanor charges were dismissed.
COURT DENIES TITIFALAULA SIAUMAU’S BOND MOTION
The High Court has denied an application by a former customs agent - jailed for five years and fined $5,000 for importing marijuana - to return his bail.
According to the court’s decision, the District Court ordered the defendant’s release from custody on cash bond of $10,000, which was paid by Smith Siaumau. One condition of release was that the defendant must “make all court appearances.”
On August 18, 2017, Siaumau failed to present himself at his pre-trial conference. His then-attorney mentioned that she had spoken with Siaumau’s father the previous Friday to confirm that the defendant would be present. Siaumau’s previous counsel also informed the court that she had tried, but failed, to contact her client the day before the hearing.
The court issued a bench warrant for Siaumau’s arrest and declared forfeiture of bail pursuant to Rule 46 of the Trial Court Rules of Criminal Procedure. Siaumau turned himself in and eventually pled guilty to importing marijuana into the territory.
Earlier this year in February, Siaumau filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture of bail and return the sum to him. At the hearing on Apr. 5, the government’s attorney did not oppose the motion.
According to the written decision by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, assisted by Judges Fa’amausili Pomele and Muasau Tofili, criminal procedures require the High Court to declare forfeiture of bail when there is a breach of a bond condition.
“Defendant has failed to offer any legal or policy argument for why we should set aside forfeiture. Perhaps if there were some good reason for why defendant had failed to present himself at his pretrial conference, we would be more sympathetic to his motion,” said the decision.
“Given previous counsel’s attempts to secure her client’s presence at the pretrial conference, it appears to this court that defendant's absence was due either to willfulness or reckless disregard.”
According to the court, the whole purpose of bail and sureties is to ensure a defendant’s presence at the hearings during his/her criminal case. Setting aside a forfeiture of bail where no good reason for doing so is proposed would do harm both to justice and to the proper functioning of a criminal justice system, said the court.
The defendant’s motion to set aside bail forfeiture is denied.
LOGOTAEAO LOGOTAEAO JR
The District Court has sentenced Logotaeao Logotaeao Jr. to 12 months probation after he pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of trespassing on land belonging to a neighboring family, and third degree assault — under a plea agreement with the government.
According to court information, Logotaeao’s family got into a dispute with a neighbor, resulting in the accused going to the neighbor’s property and assaulting a male.
Prior to being sentenced, Logotaeao apologized to the court for his actions but District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia responded that Logotaeao’s action could have resulted in a more serious outcome, affecting the defendant’s life, as well as causing trouble in the neighborhood.
Among the conditions of Logotaeao’s probation is that he pay a $125 fine within 90-days of probation, and he must maintain peace with the neighbors, be a law abiding citizen, and attend and complete anger management counseling.