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Sunia orders woman to comply after she travels to Tonga and misses court date

District Court Judge, Fiti Sunia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young woman told the court last week that the reason why she missed two court hearings was because she traveled to Tonga to visit her sick mother. In return, District Court Judge Fiti Sunia informed the young woman that she’s not allowed to leave the territory while her court case is still pending.

Elisalina Mosese appeared in court last week, pursuant to a bench warrant signed by Sunia, after failure to appear in court twice. She was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Anna Wells, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.

When Mosese’s case was called, Sunia asked counsel Wells why her client missed her last two court hearings. Wells informed the court that her client traveled off island to visit her sick mother.

Sunia looked shocked. He turned to where the defendant was sitting and asked her, “Where were you during your last two court hearings?”

Mosese said she traveled to Tonga to visit her sick mother.

Sunia laughed. He then asked Mosese whether she understood that one of the conditions of her release was she can’t leave the territory unless by an order from the court. Mosese said she did not know that she was not allowed to travel.

“So, now you understand. You are not allowed to leave the territory while your matter is pending. Speak to your attorney but remember, make all of your court appearances and do not leave the territory,” Sunia advised Mosese.