Court Report



The family of Rufo Alvear Jr., who died in 2010 while in ASG custody due to his immigration status, has filed a lawsuit against the American Samoa Government for negligence and wrongful death.

The detainee, Alvear Jr, was admitted to the LBJ hospital for several months due to multiple medical problems. Alvear suffered from diabetes, and lung and kidney failure.

The lawsuit was filed with the High Court earlier this month by Mark Ude who represents the family of the detainee.

The lawsuit documents indicate that Alvear Jr was arrested at the Immigration office due to his immigration status in the territory. However, according to the family, Alvear had lived in the territory for over 20 years and believed he was entitled to apply for permanent residency status. Instead, he was wrongfully arrested at Immigration and taken to TCF.

According to the lawsuit Alvear was in jail for nine months, and had various medical issues including vision with only one eye. They allege he was unable to properly fend for himself while in jail; and was subjected to sexual molestation by other inmates.

Alvear’s family in the lawsuit says the government failed to do its duty by not processing Alvear’s immigration papers properly, by arresting him wrongfully, and by failing to care and provide him with his medication while he was in jail.

The lawsuit says it was the government’s negligence which caused Alvear’s death and emotional distress to his family.

The High Court is yet to schedule a date to hear arguments on this lawsuit.


A man who was sentenced to three years probation for felony driving is now serving 90 days in jail, which is required by statute on a felony driving charge.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse had initially placed Leilua Tuitele on three year’s probation, with the condition that he pay a fine of $1,500.

Assistant Attorney General Blake Hanley last week filed a motion with the court to clarify the defendant’s sentence because the statute has it that it is mandatory for anyone convicted of felony driving to serve 90 days in jail.

Kruse yesterday said the defendant is sentenced accordingly and he must undertake the 90 day mandatory sentence by law as a condition of his probation. The 90 days are in addition to other conditions of his probation — that he not consume alcohol, that he attend and complete alcohol counseling and not operate a motor vehicle while his driver’s license is suspended.

Leilua was to turn himself in at the Tafuna Correctional Facility at 4:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

The defendant was caught driving to get his ill mother’s hospital bed while his driver’s license was suspended for a DUI. After a traffic citation was issued, he proceeded home and set up his mother’s bed. A few hours later his mother died.


As students returned to school from Spring Break, two Tafuna High School students were taken into police custody on Monday after they were allegedly caught smoking marijuana behind the math building. The junior students were caught by a school official.

Assistant Attorney General Terrie Bullinger said the pair will make their initial appearance in the District Court tomorrow morning.

According to the government, when they were caught, the marijuana joint was already halfway used, and the police at the West Substation were contacted. The student’s case was referred to the police Vice and Narcotics Division who are now investigating the matter.

Calls to the THS principal were not returned as of press time for comment on the issue.


Sentencing for an elderly Asian man accused of inappropriately touching a minor has been continued to next month.

The defendant Daniel Chang Sr. was initially facing five felony charges of first degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

However in a deal with the government, he pled guilty to second degree sexual abuse which was amended from the first degree sexual abuse charge, and endangering the welfare of a child ( a misdemeanor), while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

According to the government’s case Chang Sr. touched a 10-year-old girl inappropriately.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse rescheduled sentencing for Chang on April 5, 2012.

Chang is represented by Sharon Rancourt, while prosecuting is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop-Folau.


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