45.0115 Original jurisdiction.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 45.0115]

(a) The Trial Division of the High Court of American Samoa has exclusive original jurisdiction in proceedings:

(1) concerning any delinquent child, as defined in subsections (2) and (9) of 45.0103;

(2) concerning any child in need of supervision, as defined in subsection (5) of 45.0103;

(3) concerning any child who is neglected or dependent, as defined in subsection (19) of 45.0103;

(4) to determine the legal custody of any child or to appoint a guardian of the person or legal custodian of any child who comes within the Court’s jurisdiction under provisions of this section;

(5) to terminate the legal parent-child relationship, including termination of residual parental rights and responsibilities as defined in subsection (24) of 45.0103;

(6) for the issuance of orders of support under45.1601 through 45.1604;

(7) to determine the paternity of a child and to make an order of support in connection with it;

(8) for the contested adoption of a person of any age and relinquishment proceeding under 45.0401 through 45.0403 (uncontested adoptions are under 45.0420 through 45.0431; see subsection (8) of 45.0103);

(9) for judicial consent to the marriage, employment, or enlistment of a child, when the consent is required by law.

(b) The Court may issue temporary orders providing for protection, support, or medical or surgical treatment it considers in the best interests of any child concerning whom a petition has been filed prior to adjudication or disposition of his case.

(c) (1) When a petition filed in Court alleges a child 14 years of age or older to be a delinquent child as defined in subsection (a) of 45.0103 by virtue of having committed an act which would constitute a felony if committed by an adult and if, after investigation and a hearing, the Court finds it would be contrary to the best interests of the child or of the public to prosecute the child as a juvenile, it may enter an order certifying the child to be held for criminal proceedings as an adult. The hearing required in this subsection is held under 45.0124.

(2) A child may be charged with the commission of a felony only after the hearing as provided in paragraph (1), or when the child is:

(A) alleged to have committed a crime of violence and is 14 years of age or older;

(B) alleged to have committed a crime punishable by a maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death, and is 16 years of age or older, and the child has been adjudicated a delinquent child within the previous 2 years and the act for which the child was adjudicated a delinquent would have constituted a felony if committed by an adult; or

(C) alleged to have committed any felony subsequent to any other felony which was the subject of a hearing in which the child was certified for criminal proceedings as an adult.

(d) Nothing in this section may deprive the Court of jurisdiction to appoint a guardian for a child nor jurisdiction to determine the legal custody of a child upon writ of habeas corpus or when the question of legal custody is incidental to the determination of a cause in the court.

History: 1980, PL 16-71 § 1.

Case Notes:

Proceedings to terminate parental rights upon ground that the children are neglected and dependent are adversarial in nature, in contrast to relinquishment proceedings which are voluntary. A.S.C.A. §§ 45.0115, 45.0103, 45.0401. In re Two Minor Children, 8 A.S.R.2d 75 (1988).

Territorial statute vesting discretion in attorney general to proceed against certain minors as adults was not constitutionally defective due to alleged inconsistency with general purpose of juvenile justice statute to accord special treatment to minors, since both the general rules of statutory construction and the specific language of another statutory provision indicated that the exception was deliberate and purposeful. A.S.C.A. §§ 45.0103(9)(B)(I), 45.0115(c)(2)(a). American Samoa Government v. Julio, 9 A.S.R.2d 128 (1988).

Research Guide: CRS 19-1-104, 21 ASC 2911, 33 ASC 53.