KOSRAE STATE COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Heirs of Kufus v. Palsis ,
9 FSM Intrm. 526 (Kosrae S. Ct. Tr. 2000)

[9 FSM Intrm. 526]

HEIRS OF ALIK KUFUS,
Appellants,

vs.

SEPE NOAH PALSIS,
Appellee.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 125-96

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION;
ORDER TO LAND COMMISSION

Aliksa B. Aliksa
Associate Justice

Hearing:  July 17, 2000
Decided:  July 24, 2000

APPEARANCES:
For the Appellants:     Clanry Likiaksa, trial counselor
                                      P.O. Box 764
                                      Lelu, Kosrae FM 96944

For the Appellee:        Chang William, trial counselor
                                      j Kosrae State Legislature
                                      P.O. Box 187
                                      Lelu, Kosrae FM 96944

*    *    *    *

HEADNOTES
Administrative Law ) Judicial Review
     The Kosrae State Court, in reviewing the Land Commission's procedure and decision, should consider whether the Commission: a) has exceeded its constitutional or statutory authority, b) has conducted a fair proceeding, c) has properly resolved any legal issues, and d) has reasonably assessed the evidence presented.  Heirs of Kufus v. Palsis, 9 FSM Intrm. 526, 527 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Administrative Law ) Judicial Review
     With respect to review of factual findings, the court, when reviewing a Land Commission decision, normally should merely consider whether the Land Commission has reasonably assessed the evidence presented.  On appeal the court should not substitute its judgment for those well-founded Land Commission findings because it is primarily the Land Commission's task, and not the reviewing court's, to assess the witnesses' credibility and resolve factual disputes, since the Land Commission, not the court, was present during the testimony.  Heirs of Kufus v. Palsis, 9 FSM Intrm. 526, 527 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

[9 FSM Intrm. 527]

Administrative Law ) Judicial Review
     When the Land Commission's findings with respect to the Determination of Ownership are based upon substantial evidence in the record of the formal hearing and the Land Commission reasonably assessed the evidence that was presented at the hearing and has properly resolved the legal issues presented its decision will be affirmed.  Heirs of Kufus v. Palsis, 9 FSM Intrm. 526, 528 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

*    *    *    *

COURT'S OPINION
ALIKSA B. ALIKSA, Associate Justice:
     This matter is an appeal from the Determination of Ownership issued by the Kosrae State Land Commission on parcel 048-T-04. The Determination of Ownership was issued to Sepe Noah Palsis on March 11, 1996.  This appeal was filed pursuant to Kosrae State Code, Section 11.614 and the hearing on the briefs was held on July 17, 2000.  Clanry Likiaksa appeared for the Appellants.  Chang William represented the Appellee.

     This Court, in reviewing the Land Commission's procedure and decision, should consider whether the Commission: a) has exceeded its constitutional or statutory authority, b) has conducted a fair proceeding, c) has properly resolved any legal issues, and d) has reasonably assessed the evidence presented.  Heirs of Mongkeya v. Heirs of Mackwelung, 3 FSM Intrm. 395, 398 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

     The Appellants have presented two issues on appeal for review by this Court:

1.     1.     Whether the Land Commission based its finding of facts on the testimonial evidence in the record?

2.     2.     Whether the Land Commission properly recognized the testimony of the adverse claimants because the Appellee's father's name was registered as owner on the Japanese map?

     Both issues presented by the Appellant are factual issues.  With respect to review of factual findings, this Court, in reviewing the Land Commission's procedure and decision, normally should merely consider whether the Land Commission has reasonably assessed the evidence presented.  Heirs of Mongkeya v. Heirs of Mackwelung, 3 FSM Intrm. 395, 398 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1988). On appeal the Court should not substitute its judgment for those well-founded findings of the Land Commission.  Heirs of Mongkeya v. Heirs of Mackwelung, 8 FSM Intrm. 31, 35 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1997).  It is primarily the task of the Land Commission, and not the reviewing Court, to assess the credibility of the witnesses and resolve factual disputes, since it is the Land Commission, and not the Court, who is present during the testimony.  Heirs of Mongkeya v. Heirs of Mackwelung, 3 FSM Intrm. at 401.  Therefore, this Court should review the Land Commission record and determine whether the Land Commission reasonably assessed the evidence presented.

     Appellants argued that they were using the land in the past.  Appellee made same argument, that she and her children were using the land because they knew it to be theirs.  The Appellant testified that a person named Kufus gave the land as "usru" to his father, Alik Yela, but when asked if there were any witnesses to this giving of the land, Appellant responded that he did not know of any.  Appellant further stated that there is no written statement regarding the giving of land from Kufus to Alik Yela.  See Appellant's testimony at Formal Hearing at 1.  Appellant also testified that Appellee and her children were using the land.  See Appellant's testimony at Formal Hearing at 2.

[9 FSM Intrm. 528]

     This Court has carefully reviewed the record of the proceedings held for parcel 048-T-04 and concludes that the Land Commission's findings with respect to the Determination of Ownership are based upon substantial evidence in the record of the formal hearing.  This Court also concludes that the Land Commission reasonably assessed the evidence that was presented at the hearing and has properly resolved the legal issues presented.  Accordingly, the Determination of Ownership for parcel 048-T-04 is affirmed in the name of Appellee, Sepe Noah Palsis.

     The Land Commission is ordered to issue the Certificate of Title for parcel 048-T-04 to Sepe Noah Palsis, pursuant to Kosrae State Code, Section 11.616(1).  The Certificate of Title shall be issued in sixty (60) days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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