AMERICAN SAMOA HIGH COURT DENIES REQUEST FOR DNA TESTING IN TITLE CASE

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (September 26, 2002 – Samoa News)---The High Court's Land and Titles Division has denied a motion for DNA testing to prove blood ties to a chiefly title.

The motion for DNA testing was filed on June 27 by attorney Arthur Ripley Jr., on behalf of his client Akapo Kofe Akapo, one of the claimants for the matai title "Ava" from the village of Pavaiai.

Akapo had asked for the tests to prove testimony by claimant Lufilufi Peneuta "for purposes of affirming or disaffirming her claim to being a descendant of former title holder Ava Tulifaga," said court documents.

The DNA test was requested after "the close of evidence and pending the parties filing of written final arguments."

The motion specifically asks the court for an "order requiring DNA testing of certain individuals to ascertain whether they are descended from Tulifaga and/or Vili, as per their sworn testimony in the trial of this matter."

However, the motion was denied, according to a Sept. 24 two-page court decision signed by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judges Atiulagi Pese and Mamea Sala, Jr.

"Having reviewed the briefs filed by counsel and other pertinent matters on file, we exercise our discretion against allowing such additional evidence at this late stage," the court decision said.

"The counter-claimant has presented no good reason, at this stage of the proceeding, to reopen the record for the taking of new and additional evidence," the judges continued.

"The motion is therefore denied," it added.

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