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High Court issues bench warrant for Titiula Tagaloa

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — DPS police officers and the Court Marshal are going around the island with a copy of the bench warrant signed by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, for the arrest of Titiula Tagaloa after she failed to appear in High Court yesterday.

Tagaloa is out on a $30,000 surety bond, following her arrest by police last September for drug possession. She is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine.

As a condition of her release on bond, she has to visit the Probation Office once a month or any other time the office orders her to do so. She is not to possess or consume illegal drugs or alcohol, and she is to submit to random testing to ensure she is in compliance with conditions of her release.

However, since her release from the Territorial Correctional Facility last September, Tagaloa has never visited the Probation Office. The Chief Probation Officer then filed a motion in court asking for an order to revoke the defendant’s bond release.

Tagaloa’s first Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing for her bond revocation was set for last Friday.

Deputy Public Defender Michael White is representing Tagaloa while Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn is prosecuting the case.

When the defendant’s case was called, Kruse instructed the Chief Probation Officer to take the witness stand and tell the court the reason for the motion.

According to the Chief Probation Officer, they have tried to contact the defendant multiple times but have been unable to find her. The Court Marshal also visited her home but was not able to get a hold of her.

Last week, the defendant finally contacted the Probation Office and told them she called because she heard they were looking for her.

“When she finally contacted our office two days ago, that is when I informed her about the hearing today (last Friday). I believe Marshal Michael Nix also got a phone call from her yesterday (Thursday). I also contacted the Public Defender’s Office and they told me they were also trying to get a hold of her,” the Chief Probation Officer testified. At the same time, Tagaloa was seen shaking her head as if disagreeing with the chief probation officer’s statement to the court.

Kruse immediately yelled at the defendant, “Don’t shake your head like that. If you can’t be in court when you are supposed to be, I can send you back to the warden.”

The court then rescheduled Tagaloa’s OSC hearing for yesterday at 9:00 a.m.

White, who appeared on behalf of Public Defender Douglas Fiaui who is off island for 12 weeks, was ordered by the court to come prepared and tell the court why the defendant was not around for a while — otherwise she will be a guest of the warden, again.

Tagaloa, however, was not in court when her case was called yesterday. When asked by Kruse on the whereabouts of his client, White told the court she is not present.

The court then issued a bench warrant to arrest Tagaloa and ordered a forfeiture of her bond.

Samoa News understands the defendant provided a urine test sample to the probation office immediately after her hearing last Friday.