SMITH SIAUMAU, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT, Defendant.
of American Samoa
 The Revised Constitution of American Samoa provides for the writ of
habeas corpus under Article I, Section 7.
 The writ of habeas corpus provides immediate relief from illegal
 In examining pro se
pleadings, the court does so without regard to the technical niceties demanded
of attorney-drafted pleadings.
 A.S.C.A. § 46.2521 vests supervision of the work release program at
the Territorial Correctional Facility with the Warden and therefore the Court
lacks authority to grant work release pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus.
 The power to commute sentences is reserved to the Governor under
Article IV, Section 9 of the Revised Constitution of American Samoa. The Court may not, pursuant to a writ of
habeas corpus or otherwise, commute a prisoner’s sentence.
 Where prisoner moved for writ of habeas corpus, court properly
considered only the term of imprisonment under which he was currently serving,
not additional terms which he was to serve in the future and which were
consecutive to his present one.
 Habeas corpus is not a vehicle for the courts to inquire into
management of the prison system, unless “exceptional circumstances” exist,
rising to the level of a “constitutional deprivation.”
 Where prisoner alleged that plea agreement entered was
not one he had agreed to and that instead of pleading guilty to Counts I and
VI, he had been forced to plea to counts I, II, and V, court would not address
the illegality of his punishment under counts II and V as prisoner had not yet
begun serving those sentences.
Before WARD, Acting Associate Justice.
OPINION AND ORDER
Defendant, a current inmate serving the first of three, 5-year
consecutive prison terms for assault, at the Territorial Correction Facility,
has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with this court. The Court has
carefully reviewed the petition and the exhibits attached thereto.
[1-3] The privilege of a writ of habeas
corpus is provided under Article I, Section 7 of the Revised Constitution of American Samoa. This writ has been described as “the great
writ” which provides “immediate relief from illegal detention.” Suisala v. Moaali`itele, 6 A.S.R.2d
15, 18 (Trial Div. 1987). We examine the
pro se pleadings in this case as broadly as possible without regard to
the technical niceties demanded of attorney-drafted pleadings.
[4-5] Petitioner prays the Court to
commute his sentence to time served or reduce his sentence to three years with
the privilege of work release from the Territorial Correction Facility to be
granted immediately. This Court lacks
the authority to grant these prayers.
The work release program at the correctional facility is, by statute,
supervised by the Warden. See
A.S.C.A. § 46.2521 et seq. Nor
may this Court, under the writ of habeas corpus or otherwise, commute
petitioner’s sentence. That power is
exclusively exercised by the Governor under Article IV, Section 9 of the
Revised Constitution of American Samoa.
 Petitioner’s prayers notwithstanding his petition
must be reviewed to determine if it presents on its face a showing that his
confinement is unlawful. Relying upon A.S.C.
v Adams, 29 A.S.R.2d 160,
161 (Trial Div. 1996) (citing Dunlap v. Swope, 103 F.2d 19 (9th Cir. 1939)), only petitioner’s
present sentence, and not the two prospective, consecutive 5-year sentences, is
considered for purposes of his allegation of current illegal confinement.
Petitioner alleges: he has not been given permission to
attend church services on Saturdays; that the correctional facility does not
provide inmates with clothing, sheets, towels, soap, etc.; that the meals
served at the facility are not nutritious; that his cell is hot and not well
ventilated; and that petitioner doesn’t always get to exercise every day.
 Although petitioner presents a grim picture of his
life in confinement, “[h]abeas corpus is not a vehicle for the courts to
inquire into management of the prison system, unless ‘exceptional
circumstances’ rise to the level of ‘constitutional deprivation.’” Am. Samoa Gov’t v. Agasiva, 6 A.S.R.2d
32, 38 (Trial Div. 1987). On its face,
this petition does not assert any factual situation, which, if true, would
present circumstances of illegal detainment predicated upon cruel or unusual
punishment or any other restraint in violation of petitioner’s constitutional
rights. Petitioner’s remedy lies with
the executive branch, not with the Court under a habeas corpus proceeding.
As to petitioner’s allegations that he didn’t fully understand his plea
agreement and that his lawyer failed to file a timely motion before the
sentencing court to reduce his sentence, we have carefully reviewed his
allegations. We return however, to the
issue we addressed above as to petitioners present sentence of 5 years for
Count I, Assault in the Second Degree.
 Petitioner states that his first plea agreement
included a dismissal of all counts except Counts I and VI. Petitioner’s claims that he was surprised at
his subsequent hearing with the proposal that he would enter pleas of guilty to
Counts I, II, and V with the government dismissing the balance of the charges.
Petitioner is presently serving his sentence for Count I. His allegations that his future sentences may
result in his illegal detention when those sentences commence do not presently
support the issuance of a writ while he is serving a legal sentence.
The petition filed in this matter, broadly construed in favor of this pro se prisoner, does not allege facts
which if proven to be true would demonstrate his current detention is
illegal. Petitioner’s current remedy is
exclusively with the executive branch of government. He is strongly advised to avail himself to
the administrative remedies for his grievances concerning his personal
circumstances in confinement. He may
also avail himself to the parole board with respect to his current sentence.
And finally, he may petition the Governor for relief.
To ensure that the executive branch officers with authority over these
matters are fully informed on the status of this particular legal action by
petitioner, the Clerk of Courts shall cause a copy of this Opinion and Order
and a copy of the petition and exhibits to be served upon the Attorney General,
the Commissioner of Public Safety, Counsel to the Governor, and the Public
The petition is denied.
It is so