21 Aug 2008

American Samoan court to undergo changes

10:50 am on 21 August 2008

The American Samoa District Court will have some new powers under a bill being proposed by the Togiola administration.

The District Court will be able to hear small claims cases of more than 5 thousand US dollars and order detention periods of longer than 15 days for misdemeanors

Goveror Togiola Tulafono says these claims constituts a significant portion of the High Court's calendar and is taking a toll on the court's limited resources.

With the proposed law, the bulk of the civil claims can go before the Distfict Court, freeing up the High Court to concentrate on claims above $15,000 and other cases.

The bill also clears up the power of the District Coiurt juddge to issue arrest warrants, and authorises the District court to impose periods of detention, as a condition of probation, for misdemeanor offenses.

It also gives the sentencing court the ability to have closer supervision of those placed on probation over longer periods of time.

The governor says this would prevent repeat offending especially with crimes involving alcohol and domestic violence.