P.M. questions conduct of unnamed Judge

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has urged the Samoa Judicial Commission to look into the conduct of a certain Judge whom he claimed made “verbal rulings” and is yet to issue “written decisions” to explain them.

Tuilaepa did not name a Judge. But speaking during his weekly TV1 programme, Tuilaepa referred to decisions made by the Supreme Court when it sat over election petitions.

The panel of Judges which presided was made up of all the Supreme Court Justices.

“That is one major issue from the [election petition] cases that was recently dealt with in [the Supreme Court] over the nomination of election candidates,” Tuilaepa said.

“This does not relate to Judges that have rendered decisions and also prepared written rulings but there is one specific Judge who hasn’t done that."

Tuilaepa claimed the Judge had stated the written decision (including legal reasoning) would  be delivered at a later date.

He claimed that the judgement was made but the Justice had to “look for [legal] basis for the decision”. 

He added that this should not be the conduct of any Judge, given that honesty should be paramount in their calling and to date the written decision is yet to be issued to the respective parties involved. 

“I also hope the Judicial Service Commission will look into the conduct of this specific Judge and this specific Judge should be dealt with,” he said.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister said this specific case “did not have any witnesses called during the hearing.”

He added that in any case that went before the Court, witnesses should be called as they will give evidence that will assist with the decision of the Judge.

“This means this Judge made his own decision on this issue and I question his integrity and the honesty of his conduct in this matter; hence the J.S.C. needs to look into the Judge. 

“And this is one of the reasons why there is a clause in the Constitution that gives the authority to Parliament to remove any Judge from the Court over the questionable conduct. Parliament can also remove Judges and it’s called the impeachment process.”

He added the only time this clause was invoked was the matter in relation to the President of the Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.), Fepuela’i Atilla Ropati, who has a criminal conviction.

Fepulea’i was convicted and fined $7,000 by the Appellate Court in connection with causing actual bodily harm with intent on Saili Leota, a security guard of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) and his position underwent the impeachment process.

Prior to the vote being taken in the Parliament at that time, former Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa condemned the recommendation of the Parliamentary Special Inquiry Committee, which they submitted to Parliament for its consideration. 

“We stand by the law, we are lawmakers, we live, abide and respect the law. I strongly support the motion by the Government to terminate the service of the President of the Lands and Titles,” said Fiame. 

“I strongly reject the report submitted by the (Special Inquiry) Committee, and their report should be removed from the Hansard as it only brings shame to this Parliament.

The report the then Deputy Prime Minister was referring to at that time was signed by Deputy Speaker and the Committee Chairman, Nafoitoa Talaimanu Keti. 

Members of the Committee included Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, Ili Setefano Ta'ateo, Fuimaono Samuaelu Te’o, Faaulusau Rosa Stowers and Tole'afoa Ken Poutoa.  

The Samoa Observer has sent questions to the Government Press Secretariat, asking for information on whom Tuilaepa was referring to.

The M.J.C.A. has been contacted for a comment.

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