Judge raises law alarm

“This Court will not tolerate unethical practice which goes to the heart of the due and proper administration of Justice.”

This is the message from District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i 

She made the point in Court during a the hearing of Catalin Raazvan, a Romanian who came to Samoa and used counterfeited cards to steal money from the Bank South Pacific’s Automated Teller Machines (A.T.M.).

He was represented by lawyer, Tuisa Tasi Patea.

Raazvan has been found guilty of 30 charges in connection with the theft, 10 charges of theft, 10 charges of accessing electronic system without authority and 10 charges of electronic system for a dishonest purpose. 

But Judge Alalatoa was not happy about an aspect of the hearing.

“I wish to comment on the propriety of the exhibit notes being annexed to your supplementary submissions dated 11 February, 2018,” she said in relation to the defense team. 

“In my many years as a private practitioner I have never come across such practice.

“You opted not to give evidence Mr. Razvan, but you proceeded to introduce, through the back door, evidence with a view that I take into consideration. 

“I had to call a meeting in chambers with prosecution and your counsel to express my deep concerns about this.”

According to the District Court Judge, the defense lawyer explained his efforts to reason with Mr. Razvan and advice but you insisted this be done. 

“Counsel you should know better. Your role as a lawyer includes counseling or giving advice. Not just as gun slinger. 

“The lawyer hired gun approach cannot always be tolerated in this day and age by any lawyer. You have a duty to advise your client accordingly and to enlighten him that you cannot introduce evidence in this manner. 

“If he does not accept that, then instead of him firing you, you fire him and you save face. 

“You cannot be the gladiator and risk tainting your name given your utmost professional duty to any Court of law.

“This Court will not tolerate such unethical practice which goes to the heart of the due and proper administration of justice.” 

Judge Alalatoa warned that she’s considering referring this to the Samoa Law Society.

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