High Court of American Samoa
May 8, 1989
KRUSE, Chief Justice:
Re: Scheduling of Jury Trials
As you know, we are currently setting jury trials for about six months after the date on which trial is set. This has resulted partly from a receipt increase in the number of defendants requesting jury trials, and partly from the Court's policy of scheduling no more than ono jury trial per week.
The Court has neither personnel nor facilities adequate to handle more than one jury trial at a time. However, it appears that fewer than one-fourth of the jury trials scheduled are actually taking place. Most cases are resolved by pleas bargains a week or two before the scheduled trial date. As a result, the Court is only hearing about one jury trial per month, while some defendants are facing several months of pretrial incarceration.
We are capable of hearing one jury trial every week or so; and are more than willing to do so in order to clear the current backlog. Accordingly, we have decided to change (our policy so as to schedule two jury trials per week until the backlog is substantially reduced.
In order to implement this change, the following steps should be taken during the next few days:
1) The Assistant Attorneys General handling criminal cases should
review all such cases scheduled for trial after June I, 1989, to
determine which cases should be reset to earlier dates. First priority
should go to cases in which the defendants are incarcerated.
2) The Public Defender and private defense attorneys should also
review their scheduled cases, and should contact the Attorney.
[13ASR2d100]Generals office immediately in the event that an
accelerated trial date is not desired or in the event that some
dates would be inconvenient.
3) The Assistant Attorneys General should prepare stipulation in
each case in which it is determine that a new trial date would be
appropriate. The stipulation should be presented to the defense
attorney for his approval, and then to the Court.
4) In any case in which one party wants an accelerated trial date
and the other party does not, the party desiring acceleration can
make a motion to the Court.
5) The Court will grant motions or stipulations sufficient to result in
a schedule of two jury trials per week, beginning as soon as possible.
Both trials should be set on Tuesday unless there are good reasons
to prefer another day of the week.
6) On Monday of each week, the Attorney Generals office and the
defense attorneys in the two cases set for the following week should
report to the Court whether those cases will actually go to trial. If it
appears that both cases will go no trial, it may be necessary to
postpone one of them for a few days.
Thank you for your cooperation on this matter .