FSM throws out felony charge against Norleen Oliver but orders her to stand trial for misdemeanor charge

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 12, 2020

Pohnpei—This evening, the FSM Supreme Court ruled that there was no probable cause to charge Norleen Oliver with felony “Deprivation of Rights” and has thrown that charge out. It has ruled that there is probable cause to charge her with the misdemeanor charge of “Obstructing Administration of Law or other government function.”  The Court has scheduled her initial appearance on that charge on November 23.

On October 2, the FSM Department of Justice filed a criminal information at the FSM Supreme Court based on events that occurred on September 18. On that day, Oliver parked her car on a portion of the driveway that is on her family land in an effort to block construction of a road that is scheduled to be continued on to Patricia Edwin’s family land.  The criminal information contended that in blocking the driveway she had committed at least two crimes.

“Neither the information nor the accompanying affidavit of probable cause identify the right, privilege, or immunity secured to Edwin by the FSM Constitution or laws, that Oliver allegedly deprived Edwin of,” the ruling says.  “None of the rights in the FSM Declaration of Rights would seem to be implicated, not even an FSM citizen's right to travel, FSM Const. art. IV, § 12 (‘A citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia

may travel and migrate within the Federated States.’) , because that right only protects citizens from any governmental restriction on their movement or migration between FSM states, municipalities, and islands…Nor is the court aware of any statutory right that might be implicated.

“Thus, although Oliver's actions seem willful, the court cannot find probable cause that she deprived Edwin of any right, privilege, or immunity secured to her by the FSM Constitution or laws. Accordingly, the court hereby dismisses Count I of the information,” it concludes on that charge.

“Count II charges Oliver with violating 11 F.S.M.C. 501, thereby obstructing the administration of law or other- governmental function. Section 501 (1) provides that: "[a] person commits a crime if he or she willfully interferes with, delays, or obstructs a public official in the discharge or attempted discharge of any duty of his or her office,” the ruling says on the second charge.

“Taking as true the government's allegation that the First Lady is a public official (she often functions as one and her spouse is most certainly one), the government has made out a bare prima facie case that Oliver willfully interfered with, er delayed, or obstructed First Lady Edwin from entering or leaving her private residence, thus impeding her ability to rrove about and discharge whatever duties she may have as the nation's First Lady,” it concludes on that charge.

The court said that “it is somewhat dismaying that the situation has come to this.”  The Justice said that instead of blocking the access road, Oliver could have sought injunctive relief from a court to ensure that the road paving project did not affect the purity and cleanliness of her source of drinking water but that she did not do so.

FSM prosecutors will have to prove that when Oliver blocked the driveway with her car, Patricia Edwin had absolutely no way to access her land at the top of the road.

The initial appearance will be on November 23 at 11:30 in the morning.