CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as O'Sonis v. Sana ,
9 FSM Intrm. 501 (Chuuk S. Ct. Tr. 2000)

[9 FSM Intrm. 501]

RICHKO O'SONIS and
MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY,
Plaintiffs,

vs.

KOICHI SANA,
Defendant.

CSSC CA NO. 254-93

ORDER AFFIRMING LAND COURT DECISION

Soukichi Fritz
Chief Justice

Decided:  January 6, 2000

[9 FSM Intrm. 502]

APPEARANCES:
For the Plaintiffs:        Charles Greenfield, Esq.
                                     Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
                                     P.O. Box 129
                                     Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941

For the Defendant:     Gideon Doone, trial counselor
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

*    *    *    *

HEADNOTES
Administrative Law ) Judicial Review; Property ) Land Commission
     The Chuuk State Supreme Court will not set aside a Land Commission determination on the ground that members of the land registration team were not residents of Weno when that issue was not raised and argued before the Land Commission.  O'Sonis v. Sana, 9 FSM Intrm. 501, 502 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Administrative Law ) Judicial Review; Property ) Land Commission
     Jurisdiction of the Chuuk State Supreme Court trial division in appeals from the Land Commission is limited to a review of the Land Commission record and is not a trial de novo.  O'Sonis v. Sana, 9 FSM Intrm. 501, 502-03 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Administrative Law ) Judicial Review
     The Chuuk State Supreme Court applies the "clearly erroneous" standard of review when considering the decisions of administrative agencies.  O'Sonis v. Sana, 9 FSM Intrm. 501, 503 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Administrative Law ) Judicial Review
     If an agency decision is a considered judgment arrived at on the basis of hearings, a full record, and careful reflection, courts are more likely to rely on the agency's knowledge and judgment and to restrict the scope of judicial review.  O'Sonis v. Sana, 9 FSM Intrm. 501, 503 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

*    *    *    *

COURT'S OPINION
SOUKICHI FRITZ, Chief Justice:
     This is an appeal from a decision of the Chuuk State Land Court Commission which determined that the Defendant, Koichi Sana is the true owner of that parcel of land located in Iras Village, Chuuk State, described as Lot 012-A-11, also known as Unupouson #3.
 
     The petition of the Plaintiffs seeks to set aside this determination on the grounds that members of the land Registration Team were not residents of Weno Municipality as required by 67 TTC 103(1).  However, any such defect in the composition of the Registration Team must be raised during the hearing before the Land Commission and not for the first time on appeal to this Court.

     Jurisdiction of the Trial Division of the Chuuk State Supreme Court in such cases is limited to

[9 FSM Intrm. 503]

a review of the record of the Land Commission and not a trial de novo.  "Such appeal shall be treated and effected in the same manner as an appeal from a district court [trial division] in a civil action . . . ."  67 TTC 115.  Since the composition of the Land Registration Team was not raised and argued before the Land Commission, this Court is without jurisdiction to consider the issue now.

     This Court has adopted the rule that the "clearly erroneous" standard of review shall apply when considering the decisions of administrative agencies. The rule is stated in Olter v. National Election Commissioner, 3 FSM Intrm. 123, 134 (App. 1987):  "[I]f an agency decision is a considered judgment arrived at on the basis of hearings, a full record, and careful reflection, courts are more likely to rely on the knowledge and judgment of the agency and to restrict the scope of judicial review."

     Based on the foregoing analysis, a review of the proceedings before the Land Commission and full consideration of the legal issues, this Court concludes that the decision of the Land Commission is due to be affirmed, and it is so ordered.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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