AMERICAN SAMOA JUDGE CHASTENS HONOLULU ATTORNEY

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, December 20) – American Samoa’s Chief Justice, Michael Kruse, has warned an off-island attorney that he would be subject to censure for intimidating the local bench with lawsuits.

Honolulu-based lawyer, Eric Seitz, representing murder convict Richard Mahjor, is seeking an expedited appeal of an Appellate Court decision that denied Mahjor’s motion for a new trial.

Mr Seitz wrote to the Chief Justice stating that he should have recused himself from the Appellate panel as the chief justice was related to a witness in Mahjor’s trial.

Mr Seitz says he is contemplating filing a lawsuit against the local court because of this.

Chief Justice Kruse said in a ruling this week that Mr Seitz has displayed a clear lack of civility and professionalism through his extrajudicial communication to the chef justice.

He warned Mr Seitz that his behavior was grounds for censure.

He said if the attorney had any concern over the Chief Justice’s impartiality a formal motion of recusal would have dealt with the matter.

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