Court Report

ELLIOTT SIAUMAU JR.
ausage@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea has accepted a motion by Elliott Siaumau Jr's attorney, Public Defender Douglas Fiaui, to quash a warrant that was issued by the court on Mar. 27 to arrest Siaumau Jr. for failure to appear for a hearing.

Siaumau, who is out on a $5,000 surety bond is scheduled to appear in court on May 31 for a case pending in High Court.

When the defendant’s case was called in High Court on Mar. 27 for a status hearing, Siaumau Jr. did not appear. The government then asked the court to issue an arrest for Siaumau Jr. and the request was granted.

After receiving the order for a bench warrant to arrest Siaumau Jr., Fiaui immediately filed a motion to quash the warrant because according to him, his client was scheduled for a hearing in District Court on the same date and time he was supposed to appear in High Court.

Fiaui said it was never his client's intention to disobey the court's order.

He asked that his client remain out on bond to await both hearings set for him in the District and High Court.

Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn did not oppose the defense’s motion to quash the warrant; however, she pointed to the importance of the defendant being in court early, saying that in the past, Siaumau Jr. would come to court late.

Judge Patea echoed the prosecutor’s complaint.

“It seems that this morning is the first time you're in court before court starts. You've always come late to court during most of your previous appearances,” Patea told Siaumau Jr., who was sitting next to his attorney.

Patea noted that Siaumau Jr. has two pending cases — one in District Court and another in High Court. He also has two OSC (Order to Show Cause) hearings in the High Court.

The two OSC hearings for the defendant surfaced after the government felt the defendant violated conditions of his release from a previous case that was filed last year. The government pointed out that one of the conditions when he was released on bond last year, was that he be a law-abiding citizen.

However on Feb. 5th, the defendant was re-arrested and charged in the District Court with two misdemeanors: public peace disturbance and third degree assault.

Siaumau Jr. is scheduled to appear in High Court on May 31 while his next appearance in District Court is Apr. 24.

MUKA GODINET

A 33-year-old man who was convicted of receiving stolen items has been sentenced to 2 years probation.

Muka Godinet was initially charged with one count of conspiracy to steal, a class C felony, punishable by an imprisonment term of up to 7 years, and a fine of up to $5,000 or both; however, under a plea agreement with the government, Godinet pled guilty to the amended charge of receiving stolen property, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

With his guilty plea, Godinet admits that on Jan. 30, 2017, he received from someone, property with a value of less than $100 that was stolen from Pacific Products Inc.

During his sentencing, Godinet apologized to the court for his action and asked for a second chance to continue caring for his mother and young son, who were both in court yesterday.

His attorney, Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui said Godinet is a first time offender and he asked the court for a probated sentence without any period of incarceration. He said his client spent almost 5 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), and he lost his job as a result of this incident.

Prosecutor Robert Morris did not oppose the defense's request for a probated sentence, saying the 5 months Godinet spent in jail is more than enough as a punishment for his actions.

Patea agreed, saying Godinet is a suitable candidate for probation with no additional jail time.

The court noted that the defendant has no prior criminal record in High Court, only a few appearances in District Court. “We do note Mr. Godinet that in 33 years you have managed to keep yourself away from violating the law, until this recent violation when you hung around with the wrong people, or with some other kind of influence which is something you need to address by yourself to make sure you don’t repeat it,” Patea said.

Godinet was sentenced to 12 months in jail; however, execution of the sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 2 years under the condition that he remains a law-abiding citizen, and pay a fine of $1,000 and restitution of $61.

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