46.3515 High Court to review all death sentences.

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(a) Whenever the death penalty is imposed in any case, and upon the judgment becoming final in the trial court, the sentence is reviewed on the record by the High Court of American Samoa.

(b) The High Court considers the punishment as well as any errors listed by way of appeal.

(c) With regard to the sentence, the High Court determines:

(1) whether the sentence of death was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice, or any other arbitrary factor; and

(2) whether the evidence supports the jury’s or judge’s finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance as listed in 46.3514; and

(3) whether the sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant.

(d) Both the defendant and the territory have the right to submit briefs within the time provided by the High Court, and to present oral argument to the High Court.

(e) The High Court includes in its decision a reference to those similar cases which it took into consideration. In addition to its authority regarding correction of errors, the High Court, with regard to review of death sentences, is authorized to:

(1) affirm the sentence of death; or

(2) set the sentence aside and remand the case for resentencing by the trial judge based on the record and argument of counsel. The records of those similar cases referred to by the High Court in its decision shall be provided to the resentencing judge for his consideration.

(f) The sentence review is in addition to direct appeal, if taken, and the review and appeal is consolidated for consideration. The court renders its decision on legal errors listed, the factual substantiation of the verdict, and the validity of the sentence.

(g) Decisions of the High Court affirming sentences of death are subject to review by the Governor.

(h) Decisions of the Governor affirming sentences of death are subject to review by the Secretary of the Interior.

History: 1979, PL 16-43 § 2.

Research Guide: MCC 565.014, 15 ASC 5101, 15 ASC 5103, 15 ASC 5104.