Foreign judge application in Court

The Attorney General’s application to the Supreme Court – for an overseas judge to hear an appeal against a District Court decision – is set for next Wednesday.

The President of the Land and Titles Court Fepuleai Atilla Ropati was discharged by District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, after the police charged him with assault, being armed with a dangerous weapon and causing injury, and causing grievous bodily harm. The charges were connected to an incident at a party last year, when the defendant allegedly hit a security guard twice on the head with a glass bottle. 

But the Office of the Attorney General has decided to appeal the district court decision and are applying to the court for an overseas judge to chair the proceedings. 

The matter returned to the court yesterday but the prosecution was not ready when the counsels appeared before the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava'asu’e Falefatu Sapolu.

“Are you ready now to proceed? I have your written submission before me. Are you proceeding to be heard on your submission now?” the Chief Justice asked.

But Rexona Titi from the Office of the Attorney General, in response, asked for more time as they were not ready.

“No your Honour, we seek for your Honour’s indulgence to have time to address the submissions orally and to submit fully on the case of Attorney General and Vaai.”

The request did not go down well with Aumua Ming Leung Wai, who is representing Fepuleai Attila Ropati in the proceedings, with the counsel submitting that the matter has gone on for too long.

“Your Honour, I was hoping we can do this today (yesterday), I mean the case of Attorney General G versus Vaai is already submit together, I see it’s listed with the submission that was filed by prosecution on Tuesday so I don’t see this as a surprise that they’ve only come across it if they mentioned it in their submissions your Honour. So this is being dragging on too long your Honour and I was wondering if we can have it served today (yesterday) if possible.”

However, the Chief Justice said he had to adjourn the hearing to next Wednesday 10 am as the prosecution was not ready.    

The Chief Justice last week questioned the application by the Office of the Attorney General, saying it was the first time such an application came before him, as when there are concerns of bias in a court proceeding a new local judge is appointed to chair the matter.

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