FSM Government files charges against Norleen Oliver for blocking road to First Lady’s family home

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


October 2, 2020

FSM—On September 18, 2020 Norleen Oliver parked her vehicle on the driveway on her land in Tamworohi, Sokehs and walked away. The driveway also leads to a property owned and sometimes occupied by Patricia Edwin.  Edwin claims that Oliver’s car blocked access to her land. Before the end of the day, Edwin’s attorney had filed a civil action against Oliver at Pohnpei Supreme Court.  She is claiming that the action is a “breach of contract, torts interference with a contract.” It is also a “declaratory complaint for relief of easement by necessity and/or easement by prescription.”

The Court has issued a temporary restraining order barring Oliver from blocking the driveway again. Oliver’s attorney has filed her response to the civil action denying most causes of action and has also filed a counter-claim.  The court has also enjoined Edwin from taking any action on the driveway in question, though Congress has provided $40,000 to pave the driveway to her property.  The injunction means that project also cannot go forward.

The FSM Department of Justice (DOJ) felt that the situation rose to the level of criminality and on October 2, an Assistant Attorney General filed criminal charges against Norleen Oliver in the FSM Supreme Court. During this calendar year, the DOJ had previously filed only three other sets of criminal charges against other defendants. The charges claim that when she “willfully” blocked the “road” it obstructed the free movement and enjoyment of the other residents to access their home and amounts to the crime of “Deprivation of Rights” which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years.  DOJ also charged her with the crime of “Obstructing administration of law or other government function” because the car allegedly obstructed the First Lady of the FSM, Patricia Edwin from discharging her official duty which is punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year.

Oliver’s initial hearing is scheduled at the FSM Supreme Court at 11:00 on Monday morning. She is innocent unless the court, after a fair hearing rules that she is guilty.

The affidavit that accompanied the DOJ’s criminal charges said that National Police responded to the scene at just before 1:00 in the afternoon.  The responding officers said that they found Norleen Oliver’s car to

be blocking the driveway that allows access to the First Lady’s family residence. They reported that they spoke to Oliver’s husband who said that Oliver had parked the vehicle where it was in order to block planned road construction on the driveway that crosses her land.  When officers returned to the office, Acting Chief of Police Johnny Santos directed them to remove and impound the vehicle on instructions from Attorney General Joses Gallen.

When officers returned to take care of that task they found that Norleen Oliver was at home. They asked her to remove the vehicle but she told them that where she had parked the car was her land.  When the officers told her that her vehicle was blocking the First Lady’s access to her family land she said that her family told her that Edwin had driven around her vehicle earlier and was able to access her land.

The officers told her that she would have to move her vehicle or they would have to impound it. She refused and at 8 PM “she allowed the officers to remove her vehicle from where it was parked.”

The vehicle is still in the possession of the FSM National Government.

On the same day that the First Lady’s attorney filed the civil action against Norleen Oliver, he also filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, asking the Court to bar Oliver from again obstructing access to Edwin’s property.  In it he asked the Court to waive bond on the TRO because the First Lady is “indigent”.

In a letter to Pohnpei Director of the Department of Public Safety Patrick Carl sent also to the Governor, the Speaker of the Pohnpei Legislature, and the Chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Judicial and Governmental Operations, the First Lady complained of the actions of the Pohnpei State Police in the matter. She particularly complained that Acting Police Chief John Augustine had not acted to arrest Norleen Oliver for obstructing the road and had told her that Oliver had broken no laws.  She claimed in the letter that State Police Officers instead “were standing guard at the access road to make sure that no one interferes with Ms. Oliver's blocking vehicle.” She wrote that Augustine, who is related to Oliver told her that she needed to stop calling police and “to fend myself and my family (wia ahi koahiek)…I felt that the Acting Chief of Police wanted me to resolve the matter personally with Ms. Oliver which given the options during the time of the week (a Friday), was for me to physically fight Norleen so the car blocking the road to my family could be opened again.”

“I believe that Mr. Augustine needs to be reminded to mind his job with fairness and to be mindful of the many that could be hurt due to bad decisions,” she wrote.  “I am able to hire an expensive attorney but this luxury is not available to most Pohnpei residents.”

On the First Lady’s civil action, Norleen Oliver’s attorney filed a counter claim. It claims that Oliver wrote President Panuelo asking him to consult with her family before executing pavement project on her land because of fears that it would pose a risk to the only drinking water source that the family has. It claims that the President did not respond and instead wrote a hand written note to the FSM Attorney General saying that “We will proceed with the project as land belonging to Trish/First Lady is landlocked.”

The counter claim says that FSM National Police confiscated her vehicle without any search or arrest warrants.

The first cause of action in the counter claim at the Pohnpei Supreme Court is for Trespass since the road and its planned expansion is allegedly mostly contained within the boundaries of Norleen Oliver’s property.

The second cause of action in the counter claim is Abuse of Public Power. It claims that the First Lady “has used the Office of the President of the Federated States of Micronesia to intimidate and harass the Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff even to the point of having the Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff’s car unlawfully removed from her own property without a warrant.”

In her civil action, Edwin claimed that there exists either a contract between her family and the Oliver family that allows the road to go through the Oliver land or an easement of prescription. She said that she is having her attorney search for the agreement.

Edwin’s attorney responded that there is no contract and that Pohnpei has no laws allowing for easements without compensation.

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