Norleen Oliver acquitted of all criminal charges

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

March 10, 2021

IMG 0228FSM—Late on the afternoon of March 5, the FSM Supreme Court issued a judgment of acquittal of the one remaining misdemeanor charge filed against Norleen Oliver by the FSM Department of Justice.  After the Court earlier dismissed the felony charge of “Deprivation of Rights” the FSM Department of Justice filed against Oliver the only remaining charge was “Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function”.  Today she was cleared of that charge as well.  She is innocent of all charges.

The charges were related to the incident in September during which she parked her car on the driveway on land over which she is custodian.  The driveway also leads to the family property of President David Panuelo’s wife, Patricia Edwin and the charges said that Oliver’s blockage of the driveway not only disrupted a Congress funded public project to pave the driveway but also blocked Edwin’s access to her family land on that day.

Prior to charges being filed, police impounded Oliver’s car which remained at the impound lot at the National Government until Wednesday, March 10.

In mid-November, the FSM Government terminated Oliver’s employment at the Department of Health and Social Affairs.  Her attorney says that there will be an administrative hearing next week to consider whether that action was appropriate, particularly in light of Oliver’s acquittal.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s civil action against the national government which had been on hold pending the outcome of the criminal charges filed against her will move forward.  That lawsuit was filed in October of last year.

“The irony of this all is that I held the role of the national focal point and advocate of human rights at the national government when all of this happened to me,” Oliver said of the news of her acquittal. “My complete acquittal is a victory to me and any other person that finds them on the opposite isle with the very institution that should promote, protect and fulfill your rights as citizens of this country for whatever political or personal reasons there may be. I'm also appealing my termination of employment. I know that this administration may not want me back but this is not a government of this administration only but a government that will last our lifetime and for every citizen of this country. This fight is to show other citizens and employees of our government(s) that they have the right to fight the resourceful and powerful government if they feel that they are wrongly targeted by the government.  In the same spirit, I'm pursuing my civil action against FSM National Government. I want to thank my family, friends and my lawyer; Ms. Marstella Jack for carrying me through this ordeal. Above all, my utmost gratitude and praise to God.”

Meanwhile, last week the court found Mark DeOrio, Oliver’s husband, guilty of a misdemeanor charge of theft of a letter written by his wife to President Panuelo that had a note from the President to the Secretary of the Department of Justice written on it. The Court has said that it will rule on the penalty for that conviction in April.

Likely the penalty will be small since it will be based on the value of the letter itself.