Chapter 18 - Village Court Proceedings

Chapter 18 - Village Court Proceedings

46.1801 Designation of prosecutor-Filing complaint.


(a) The pulenuu of each village, or his designee, shall serve as prosecutor before the court for the village, except that when the pulenuu is to be a witness, he shall designate another person as prosecutor.

(b) When a pulenuu has evidence that a village regulation has been violated, he may file a complaint with the village court. The complaint shall be in writing and a copy shall be served on the accused prior to arraignment. The complaint shall advise the accused in effective and understandable language of the following:

(1) the nature of the charge against him and the specific regulation involved;

(2) the time and place of his arraignment for the entry of his plea and the time and place of his trial if he pleads not guilty;

(3) his rights as enumerated in 46.1804;

(4) his right to a retrial de novo before the district court as provided in 46.1808.

46.1802 Sentence for plea of guilty.


If an accused pleads guilty on arraignment before a village court, the court may find the accused guilty and sentence the accused as provided in 46.1806.

46.1803 Plea of not guilty-Trial.


If the accused pleads not guilty, he may be found guilty only after a trial before the village court. Trials shall be open to the public, and no trial may be held sooner than seven days after the accused has been served with a copy of the complaint.

46.1804 Rights of accused.


An accused shall have the right to:

(1) request and receive any time necessary to consult with counsel and to prepare his defense;

(2) be represented by the counsel of his choice at arraignment and trial;

(3) be present during the trial and to cross-examine witnesses presented against him;

(4) present any material evidence on his own behalf and to have witnesses summoned by the court as his request;

(5) testify in his own behalf or to refrain from testifying, as he may prefer.

46.1805 Admissible evidence.


The court shall consider only the evidence presented before it under oath or stipulated to; no other written statements of witnesses or other hearsay may be presented.

46.1806 Sentencing-Suspensions.


(a) If a village court finds an accused guilty it may sentence the accused to the penalty provided in the village regulations. If permitted by the village regulations, the village court, upon conviction, may impose a fine not to exceed $100 or may require the accused to perform labor for the village under the supervision of the pulenu’u not to exceed 25 hours total or 8 hours in any day, or both.

(b) The court shall have the discretion to suspend sentences or impose lesser penalties than are provided in the village regulations but the court may not impose a penalty greater than that provided in the regulations.

(c) Fines shall be paid to the Clerk of the High Court.

46.1807 Failure to appear or perform sentence.


(a) If an accused fails to appear in village court as summoned, or appears but fails to perform a sentence, the court shall refer the matter to the district court of American Samoa.

(b) Upon referral to the matter, the judge shall issue an order requiring the accused to appear at the District Court and show cause why he should not appear in Village Court or perform the required sentence as the case may be.

(c) If the accused fails to show cause and the judge is satisfied that the proceedings in the village are entirely regular in that the requirements of this title and all other laws and regulations pertaining to village courts have been met, he shall order the accused to so appear or perform the sentence.

(d) If the accused fails to comply with any order of the District Court made pursuant to this section, he shall be in contempt of court and dealt with accordingly.

46.1808 Retrial de novo-District court.


(a) Any accused who is found guilty by

a village court shall be informed by the court of his right to have his case retried de novo before the district court of American Samoa; provided, he requests such a retrial within 10 days of the pronouncement of judgment.

(b) If the accused informs the village court that he desires a retrial before the district court, the village court shall vacate the judgment and the pulenu’u shall refer the case to the Attorney General.

(c) If the Attorney General determines that prosecution of the case is justified, he shall be responsible for the prosecution before the district court, with the assistance of the pulenu’u. The accused shall be entitled to all the rights of a criminal defendant before the district court.

(d) Upon conviction following a retrial for a violation of village regulations, the District Court may impose only those penalties which the village court could have.

(e) Except for retrials de novo in District Court, there shall be no appeal from or review of village court proceedings. There is no right of appeal from a judgment of the district court entered after a trial de novo.