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CJ Kruse: Court does not get involved in funeral release requests

Chief Justice Michael Kruse

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse told the defense attorney, William Olson that the court does not get involved in funeral release. That decision falls to the Executive Branch of the government including the Police Commissioner.

Kruse revealed this issue last week when Cody Wood’s case was called in open court.

Assistant Attorney General, Christy Dunn appeared before the government while Olson represented the defendant.

Kruse stated that the reason why he put Wood’s case on calendar was because he received two motions from Mr. Olson regarding funeral release. In both motions, several parts of the statue were cited to the court by the defense attorney.

Kruse asked Olson if he was also representing Thomas Siaumau. Olson responded, yes. Siaumau was also present in court last week but his case wasn’t called.

Kruse told Olson that if the executive branch allows funeral release for both of his clients, accompanied by an officer, that would be fine with the court. As long as the officer is accompanying the defendants, custody is still there.

“We don’t get involved in funeral release. As long as the Commissioner wishes to allow it, that’s fine with the court. So, funeral release is not the court’s responsibility,” Kruse said.

Samoa News understands that Olson filed motions for funeral release for Wood and Siaumau, in order for them to attend their love one’s funeral.


The imposition of sentences against the 42-year old woman convicted of misdemeanor stealing has been suspended for two years, and the High Court has now placed her on probation for the period of years under certain conditions.

Oketi Polevia appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, along with his Associate Judges, Fa’amausili Pomele and Muasau T. Tofili last week for sentencing.

She was represented by Acting Public Defender, Michael White while Christy Dunn of the Attorney General’s Officer represented the government of American Samoa.

Polevia was initially charged with stealing; however under a plea agreement with the government, the charge was amended from a class C felony to a class A misdemeanor.

With her guilty plea, Polevia admits that between Aug. 22 and Sept. 15, 2017 she stole 56 packages of Similac baby formula milk from a store in Iliili, and the items are valued at $1,232.

When asked by Kruse what she did with the stolen baby formula, Polevia said she used it to feed her baby. She also told the Court that she paid $300 to the storeowner for the items she took.

Before she was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) last December to await her sentencing, Kruse gave her two special conditions, she is not allowed to enter the store she stole the items from, and she is not to carry any big shopping bags at any store. She is only to have a purse.

After 6 months, Polevia appeared before the High Court last week for sentencing. Her attorney informed the court that the defendant has paid the restitution to the victim in the full amount, which was $1,232.

Dunn told the court with Polevia paying restitution of the full amount shows the court that she’s willing to take full responsibility for her action. Dunn then asked the court to place her on probation.

Kruse asked Dunn what she meant by probation.

“Are you talking about probation including a period of incarceration?” Kruse asked Dunn. She responded, “No your honor. The government has recommended to place the defendant on probation without any more period of detention.”

Kruse then ordered that Polevia be placed on probation for 2 years. She is to remain law abiding at all times.