28 Jul 2004

American Samoa to legislate for jury trials at District Court level

1:38 pm on 28 July 2004

American Samoa's governor, Togiola Tulafono, has submitted legislation to the Fono to establish jury trials at the District Court.

The measure follows a ruling by the Appellate Division of the High Court in March last year that defendants are entitled to a jury trial in the District Court even though the laws governing it don't specify that jury trials can be held there.

Under the bill submitted by Togiola, any person charged with a crime carrying a maximum possible punishment of over 6 months but no more than one year of imprisonment, is entitled to trial by jury.

However, a jury trial is waived if requested by the defendant either in writing or in open court.

If a jury trial is carried out in the District Court, the measure said such a jury should have six members.