Chief of Staff addresses concerns over lack of attorneys with PD's office
The Lemanu and Talauega Administration has been actively pursuing developing and implementing immediate and long-term solutions over the lack of lawyers in the Public Defender’s and Attorney General’s offices.
According to Chief of Staff Loa Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola in a recent statement, this is. His comments follow media publication regarding Chief Justice Lealaialoa Michael Kruse’s letter reminding the administration of their statutory obligation under the law to ensure defendants are legally represented in court.
According to Loa, upon receipt of Chief Justice Kruse's letter, Acting Governor Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale met with the Chief Justice in person and assured his honors this is the highest priority to the Administration.
Recruitment and retention of attorneys by ASG has been a recurring challenge. One compounded by less than competitive salary and benefits packages compared to similar jurisdictions in the continental United States.
Efforts to address this issue are under review and will be implemented immediately upon approval. Despite these challenges, a few local and off-island individuals have expressed interest in either being the Public Defender or working with the Public Defender's Office.
The Office of the Governor has also tasked one of its attorneys to assist the Office of the Public Defender through a project designed to help promptly disposition cases.
From an office infrastructure perspective, the Office of the Public Defender has been moved to a new location closer to the Court House.
The Office has also secured federal funding to implement an office infrastructure plan. Proper office equipment and furniture have been provided. An advanced case management system is in the process of being purchased.
The hiring of additional investigative and administrative support staff is under consideration, said the Chief of Staff.
Photo Credit: ASG