Court rules in lawsuit against Justice Fisher

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Justice Robert Llyod Fisher.

Justice Robert Llyod Fisher. (Photo: robertfisher.co.nz)

A lawsuit against Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Robert Llyod Fisher, brought by lawyer, Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe, has been thrown out by the Supreme Court.

The decision was delivered by Justice Mata Tuatagaloa yesterday.

Su’a Hellene Wallwork is representing Justice Fisher in the hearing where Leulua’iali’i is citing hurt and humiliation in her statement of claim. 

The Office of the Attorney General is the second respondent.

Leulua’iali’i accuses them of being responsible for the actions of Justice Fisher.

In delivering her decision, Justice Tuatagaloa lifted a suppression order issued last month during the submissions.

Justice Tuatagaloa ruled that “the doctrine of judiciary immunity applies to the first defendant therefore the claims against the first defendants is struck out. 

“In then naturally follows that the claims also fail against the second defendant who is only named as a party because of the first defendant. 

“If I’m wrong, the claims against the second defendant is nevertheless struck out because under the law, the second defendant is wrongfully brought in as a party to these proceedings.

“In any event, the statement of claim is struck out in its entirety and I will fully cover that in my written to be made available next Wednesday.”

Outside Court, Leulua’iali’i said she was disappointed with the outcome but she is not giving up. 

 “If I fail in the Court of Appeal, I am going to the international Court of justice on this issue,” she said. 

“I came expecting this result. There is no way Olinda Woodroffe will back off. I want to express in pure and clear terms.

“Why do I say that? There is no way I would allow any other human being to mistreat me, let alone a palagi [caucasian] man who sits in Court judicial immunity yes they got the power but they do not have the right to be rude. 

“Furthermore I am an elderly person in our community in this profession I’ve done it for 30 years I would like to protect the dignity of Samoan young women who come up in this profession, by being mistreated. 

Asked for a comment following the ruling, Defense lawyer, Su’a said: “He’s an honorable member of the Court of Appeal and as Counsel for Honorable Justice Fisher it is not appropriate for me to comment on the outcome, but I am happy with the outcome.”  

 

STATEMENT OF CLAIM 

According to a statement of claim, the lawyer accuses Justice Fisher over his alleged consistent criticism of her during a Court of Appeal matter in February this year.  The lawyer was seeking an appeal for the case of Kirita Maria Kolotita Pune against Molio’o Teofilo Vaeluaga.  

Justice Fisher was among the panel of judges. 

In her statement of claim, Leulua’iali’i alleges that the Judge in an open court “consistently made criticisms of the plaintiff which were high handed, unfair, unfounded, incorrect, gratuitous, inappropriate, abusive and made with a contumelious disregard of the plaintiff.”  

The claim highlighted that the learned judge stated in the Court that “if it were not for the importance of the appeal I think we might be minded to just dismiss it or at least adjourn it based on the delays and the incompetence of Counsel for the Appellants.”  

Further, she alleged that the Judge made “derogatory and mocking comments when the plaintiff responded that she had sought legal advice from Sir Ian Barker QC, now retired, on this issue."  

Leulua’iali’i said the Judge’s actions breached his sworn oath as a Judge of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.  

“In addition, the first defendant’s actions as pleaded above negligently or deliberately breached his duty as a judge of the Court of Appeal and breached his oath, these breaches were made with contumelious disregard to the effect on the plaintiff and consequential effect on access to justice of the people of Samoa.”   

Leulua’aili’i is seeking a declaration that the Judge’s actions breached the Constitution and were illegal.  

She is also seeking general damages and hurt and humiliation of $1million and exemplary damages of $1million.  The same cause of action is also sought after the second defendant who is the Office of the Attorney General.  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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