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American Samoa: Issues Associated with Some Federal Court Options

GAO-08-1124T Published: Sep 18, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 2008.
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American Samoa is the only populated U.S. insular area that does not have a federal court. Congress has granted the local High Court federal jurisdiction for certain federal matters, such as specific areas of maritime law. GAO was asked to conduct a study of American Samoa's system for addressing matters of federal law. This testimony discusses: (1) the current system for adjudicating matters of federal law in American Samoa and how it compares to those in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); (2) the reasons offered for or against changing the current system for adjudicating matters of federal law in American Samoa; (3) potential scenarios and issues associated with establishing a federal court in American Samoa or expanding the federal jurisdiction of the local court; and (4) the potential cost elements and funding sources associated with implementing those different scenarios. This testimony is based on GAO work performed from April 2007 to June 2008.

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