3.0203 Power to punish contempt of authority.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 3.0203 ]

The High Court of American Samoa shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, at its discretion, contempt of its authority consisting of the following:

(1) misbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto that the misbehavior obstructs the administration of justice;

(2) misbehavior of any of its officers in their official transactions; and

(3) disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command.

History: 1967, PL 10-27; 1969, PL 11-54.

Case Notes:

Criminal contempt statute authorizing the executive to prosecute certain conduct as criminal contempt of court does not limit court’s power to act on its own under general contempt statute. A.S.C.A. §§ 3.0203, 46.4617; American Samoa Government v. Godinet, 7 A.S.R.2d 127 1988).

General contempt statute may give rise to criminal liability despite existence of separate statute making certain acts criminal offenses. A.S.C.A. §§ 3.0203, 46.4617. American Samoa Government v. Godinet, 7 A.S.R.2d 127 (1988).

Contempt statute giving court power to punish resistance or disobedience to court’s process should be construed to refer to resistance or obstruction of the process by which the court conducts its business, not just disobedience to subpoena or other paper requiring attendance in court. A.S.C.A. § 3.0203. American Samoa Government v. Godinet, 7 A.S.R.2d 127 (1988).

Agreement between prospective witness in criminal proceeding and members of the defendant’s family that defendant would leave the territory and victim would refuse to testify constituted resistance to process of court within meaning of contempt statute, even if “process” is construed narrowly to refer to a subpoena and even though the agreement could not reasonably be construed to mean that the witness would refuse to testify only if she received no subpoena. A.S.C.A. § 3.0203. American Samoa Government v. Godinet, 7 A.S.R.2d 127 (1988).

Agreement between prospective witness and members of criminal defendant’s family that defendant would leave the territory and witness would refuse to testify, made after court’s order that defendant stand trial and with the purpose of preventing the trial, constituted resistance to the court’s mandate within the meaning of contempt statute. A.S.C.A. § 3.0203. American Samoa Government v. Godinet, 7 A.S.R.2d 127 (1988).