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Lack of 'discovery' continues to be a problem for District Court cases

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —The District Court dismissed yesterday, the government's case against Ralph Otto.

Samoa News understands the issue had to do with police reports. Based on information that was revealed in court, the investigating officer claims the report was turned in; but yesterday, presiding District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea referred to his case notes, which showed that Otto has made "numerous appearances" in court and still, there's been no discovery.

"Why police reports are not turned in, and why they are turned in and not made available, is just beyond me," Judge Patea said during the proceedings for Tie Lomon, who made his initial appearance in District Court last October for two cases, and still — there's been no discovery as of yesterday.

Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells is representing both Lomon and Otto.

Lomon is charged in three separate cases: two from last year and one from this year.

The police report and discovery have been received for the most recent case; however, nothing has been received for the two cases from last year.

Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell said it appears that police reports for older cases are harder to get than newer cases.

Counsel Wells told the court that it's been four months since Lomon has been charged and she's yet to receive discovery. And she used that as the basis for a motion to dismiss the first two cases against her client.

Judge Patea is giving the government until next Tuesday — which is the next scheduled court date for Lomon — to come up with an answer. Judge Patea said the defense's motion to dismiss the first two cases is under advisement and he will issue a ruling on Feb. 19.

In the meantime, Lomon is remanded back to custody at the TCF while Otto was released.

For his most recent case, Lomon is charged with third degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, trespassing, and criminal contempt. His bail is set at $500

For the 2018 case, Lomon is charged with attempted burglary and public peace disturbance for an incident that occurred in Laulii.