26 Mar 2003

Jury trials in American Samoa's lower court approved

4:35 pm on 26 March 2003

In a landmark decision the Appellate Division of the High Court in American Samoa has ruled that defendants in District Court trials are entitled to jury trials.

The decision overturns an earlier ruling involving two people convicted of drunk driving.

After being convicted the two unsuccessfully filed motions for new trials arguing they had a statutory and constitutional right to a jury trial.

A second appeal to the Appellate court reversed the lower court's decision.

The three local judges on the Appellate Court voted against the reversal but the law gives the view of the two visiting judges greater weight.