American Samoa

The government of American Samoa funds and administers all indigent defense services. A government agency and the judiciary administer services. There is no commission providing oversight of services.

The territorially funded Office of the Public Defender (OPD) administers almost all adult and juvenile trial and appellate representation throughout American Samoa. The agency also provides representation in all other case types with a right to counsel. The agency provides representation through staff public defenders and serves the five islands and two atolls that comprise American Samoa. If OPD is unavailable, judges can appoint private attorneys on a pro bono basis or paid at an hourly basis. The American Samoa supreme court maintains a list of all licensed attorneys for this purpose.

The governor appoints the chief public defender to lead OPD. The public defender must hire staff for the office, subject to the governor’s approval. There is no commission providing oversight of the public defender or of appointed private attorneys.

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Questions Open/Close

Is there a right to counsel in American Samoa?

What are the required qualifications of the chief public defender?

Is there any pay parity between indigent defense providers and prosecutors?

In which branch of government does the indigent defense system reside?