Recusal application against Justices withdrawn

The Office of the Attorney General has withdrawn a recusal application to disallow Justices from hearing two controversial cases before the Court. 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Moliei Simi Vaai confirmed the application has been withdrawn. 

On Thursday morning, the Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Fuimaono Sefo Ainuu filed the applications before the Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese to recuse the justices from hearing their appeal. 

The A.G. is appealing the decision from the Supreme Court to void the additional seat awarded to Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau. 

They are also filing legal actions against the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party arguing the swearing in of their elected Members of Parliament outside the House on Monday was unlawful. 

The A.G. had alleged favoritism from the bench after her office and the Human Rights Protection Party lost four legal challenges mounted by the F.A.S.T. party. 

The Appellate Court was scheduled to hear the appeal on Monday that revoked the appointment of Aliimalemanu as the sixth woman M.P. 

The matter was scheduled to be heard before Chief Justice Perese, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren and Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma. 

The Appellate Court last week reviewed preliminary issues of the appeal that asked to stay the enforcement of a decision to void the additional seat. 

That application was dismissed by the bench ordering that it would prejudice Aliimalemanu's case if she does not sit in Parliament when it convenes on the 45th day as required by the Constitution. 

In those proceedings it was disclosed in Court that Justice Roma goes to the same church as Aliimalemanu and his father has a relationship with her husband. 

This was contested by F.A.S.T. that applied to recuse Justice Roma while the A.G. and Aliimalemanu’s lawyer did not oppose him sitting on the bench. 

The Chief Justice ruled against the recusal application from F.A.S.T. stating the concern raised was not based on merits, noting that the party did not question the impartiality of Justice Roma. 

But when the appeal was set down for hearing on Monday next week the A.G. applied to recuse all the Justices from hearing the substantive hearing.  

They made the same application in a fresh challenge that asks the Court for interim orders to stop any legal effect of the swearing-in of the F.A.S.T. party and its transition into Government. 

According to Fuimaono from the A.G.’s office their recusal application relied on Article 9 of the Constitution requiring a fair trial. 

He also asked the Court to determine the recusal application first before a substantive hearing can move ahead. 

But Chief Justice, His Honour Perese asked Fuimaono under what authority can the A.G. dictate how the Court carries out its business. 

“If the Court has handed down an allocated hearing date for you, normally parties don’t ask for dates or particular judges,” he said. 

“We will deal with recusal application [where] you want to recuse all judges that could possibly hear that case.” 

The recusal application was scheduled to be dealt with on Monday next week but has since been withdrawn on Friday this week. 

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