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Travel restrictions slow inmate Barlow’s federal case over detention

James Barlow in a photo from his GoFundMe site
Claims violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The federal court in Washington D.C. has granted a joint motion by attorneys representing Territorial Correctional Facility inmate James Glenn Barlow and US Secretary of Interior David L. Bernhard, allowing the parties until Nov. 1st, to confer and propose a schedule for further proceedings in this case.

In it’s joint status report filed last week, the parties informed US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that since the last status report filed in July “progress in resolving this case slowly continues.”

Attorney for Barlow — the Petitioner — explained that COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place, and due to expire on Oct. 1st, but may well be extended. (As reported by Samoa News last week Friday, Hawaiian Airlines flight suspension between Honolulu and Pago Pago is now continued through the end of October, based on a request from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga.)

Barlow’s attorney informs the court that they continue to work with local officials, but the travel restrictions have inhibited progress. “Hopefully, that situation will change in the near future,” the attorney said, and requested another extension of time to continue discussions.

Sec. Bernhard’s legal teams informed the court that the Respondent does not object to a further extension of time to permit the Petitioner to pursue relief through other means.

Barlow is currently serving a 24-year jail term at TCF for a conviction in a case involving three male juveniles. Last year he filed a habeas corpus petition — first with the federal court in Honolulu and later transferred to the federal court in Washington D.C — challenging his detention in American Samoa.

He argued that various components of his trial in the High Court of American Samoa violated his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The case was moved to D.C. federal court as it was the proper venue because the U.S Secretary of Interior has plenary authority over the judicial system of American Samoa.


The Fifth Amendment — No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Sixth Amendment — In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.