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Attorney for James Barlow provides govt with affidavits supporting pardon

American Samoa High Court building
“New development” arises after a comment is posted to Samoa News online

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — To support his application for pardon and commutation of sentence, attorney for former Territorial Correctional Facility inmate James Glenn Barlow has provided to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga two affidavits, including one from the local former assistant public defender who raised questions about the prosecutor.

Barlow’s attorney, Bentley Adams III included submissions in his Nov. 30th letter to the governor, who was also informed of a “new development” after a person posted a comment to Samoa News online saying that one of the alleged teenage victims had stated that “nothing ever happened” with the defendant.

The now 73-year old Barlow was sentenced in 2014 by the High Court of American Samoa to serve a 24-year jail term at TCF for a conviction in a case involving three male juveniles. Last year he filed a habeas corpus petition — first with the federal court in Honolulu and later transferred to the federal court in Washington D.C — challenging his detention in American Samoa.

After serving one-third of his prison term — as of July 1st — American Samoa Parole Board granted Barlow’s parole on Oct. 20 and he departed the territory on Oct. 26th on the medical charter heading to Honolulu and is now living in California.

In his Nov. 30th letter to the governor, Adams reiterated what he said in an Oct. 29th letter in support of the pardon application that “there is considerable doubt as to Mr. Barlow’s guilt in this case and he maintains his innocence.”

In that regard, Adams shared “some evidence” for the governor to consider in deciding Barlow’s request. Among the evidence is a June 24, 2020 affidavit by Leslie J. Cardin, who had previously served at an assistant public defender in American Samoa. Cardin’s affidavit was filed with the federal court in Washington D.C. in Barlow’s habeas corpus case against the US Secretary of Interior challenging his conviction in the High Court of American Samoa.

Adams informed the governor that Cardin’s affidavit details the alleged misconduct of former assistant attorney general Terry Bullinger, who had a “personal grudge” against Barlow that was “motivated in large part by an apparent prejudice against Mr. Barlow based on his perceived sexual orientation.”

“Cardin’s affidavit establishes that sexual contact with Mr. Barlow was repeatedly denied by the [alleged victims] and that only after prosecutors conducted secret meetings [with the alleged victims] without their attorney’s knowledge or consent did they implicate Mr. Barlow,” Adams explained.

“Based on this and Cardin’s familiarity with the prosecutor, Cardin feared the accusations against Mr. Barlow were coerced and false,” said Adams, who noted that while Cardin was present during Barlow’s trial, she was not permitted to testify that the alleged victims told her that no sexual contact had occurred.

Cardin represented the three teenagers for their case in District Court of American Samoa on charges of underage drinking. Cardin’s affidavit also triggered a complaint by the defense filed with the US Secretary of Interior against the local Attorney General’s Office, whose attorneys were accused of “deliberately” concealing inconsistent statements made by Barlow’s “alleged victims”. (See Samoa News editions July 21s and July 22nd for details.)

The second piece of evidence submitted to the governor is a Nov. 8, 2013 affidavit from Barlow’s housekeeper at the time of the alleged crime — and this evidence, said Adams, “provides contemporaneous confirmation of the facts in the Cardin affidavit.”

The housekeeper spoke with one of the victim’s after the charges were made against Barlow. The alleged victim told the housekeeper, whose affidavit was filed with the High Court of American Samoa that “nothing sexual happened” and that his statement to prosecutors “was not true”, according to Adams.

The governor was further informed that the housekeeper believed the “three teenagers are now too scared to divulge the truth for fear of what might happen to them or their parents”. (Cardin’s affidavit states that the three juveniles’ families were originally from Tonga and thus subject to American Samoa’s immigration laws.)

The housekeeper also testified at trial that this same teenager made other denials to her on other occasions as well, according to the defense.

Adams then informed the governor of another development which recently came to his attention. This development pertains to a recent Samoa News story — the Nov. 5th edition — about Barlow’s application for a pardon and the story was based on the defense filings with the federal court in Washington D.C.

A person — identified only as “Tuavela” — posted a comment to the story online saying in part that, “My best buddy, happily married with 3 kids now, is one of the victims and he says nothing ever happened.”

Adams said he is now attempting to contact “Tuavela” through Samoa News and other local resources to follow-up on the comments about Barlow’s case. And hopefully, “Tuavela” will agree to speak with the defense and more information can be obtained.

“We are hopeful that this matter and the federal habeas case can be resolved prior to Dec. 15th” which is the date the federal court has scheduled for Barlow and the Secretary of Interior to file an updated Joint Status Report on this case, Adams explained.

He also said that he does not anticipate US District Court Emmett G. Sullivan, who is presiding over the federal case, will be inclined to extend the deadline for negotiations any further.

“If the case has not been resolved by that time, I intend to ask the court to allow me to begin taking depositions under oath of past and present members of the Attorney General’s Office [in American Samoa], including the current Attorney General, to get to the truth of the matter,” Adams informed the governor.

And since the Governor’s Office had “some communication with Mr. Barlow’s friends about his case while the case was pending, it may be necessary to question” some of the staff at the Governor’s Office, he said.

“I would prefer not to go down that road, but we will go where the road takes us,” he wrote to the governor, who was urged to give Barlow’s application for a pardon “favorable consideration as soon as possible”

“It is imperative that you act soon to correct this manifest miscarriage of justice,” Adams concluded in his letter, which was also sent to Assistant US Attorney Johnny H. Walker of the District of Columbia; the governor’s legal counsel; attorneys with the local AG’s Office; local attorneys representing Barlow in his lawsuit against ASG pending in the High Court; and Samoa News.