Legal advice sought over President’s “special leave”

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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The request for clarity from the Attorney General is made in a letter from M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, addressed to the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

The request for clarity from the Attorney General is made in a letter from M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, addressed to the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) has asked the Attorney General for “legal advice about the leave entitlements of the President” of the Land and Titles Court.

The request follows the decision by Fepulea'i Attila Ropati to take “special leave” pending criminal charges filed against him in Court. 

The request for clarity from the Attorney General is made in a letter from M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, addressed to the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

Dated 5 March 2018, a copy of the letter has been obtained by the Samoa Observer. 

 “I write in relation to the President of the Lands and Titles Court,” the letter reads. 

“On March 2018, I was informed verbally by his Honor Chief Justice Sapolu, that the decision of the Judicial Service Commission is that the President take his leave effective 2 March 2018 until his criminal charges have been determined by the Court. 

“I am therefore writing to seek your legal advice about the leave entitlements of the President. 

“At the moment there are no legislative guidelines on leave entitlements for all judges including the President of the Lands and Titles Court. 

“The current practice is that application by a Judge for leave is approved by His Honor Chief Justice. 

“The entitlements I am asking about is the type of leave as well as the entitlements of the leaves for the President.”

Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff. Photo / File
Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff. Photo / File

An email to the Attorney General was not responded to at press time last night.

 Earlier this week, Papali’i told the Samoa Observer that Fepuleai’s special leave became effective last Friday.

 “The Chief Justice, His Honor Patu Tia’vaasu’e Falefatu Sapolu and the Judicial Service Commission accepted the request by the honourable president to take personal leave, pending the criminal case against him,” said Papali’i. 

In his absence, the Chief Justice has taken over the role of the President of Land and Titles.

“The Chief Justice will play his role in the criminal, civil cases and will also sit on the Land and Titles cases.”

Papali’i denied that Fepulea’i’s absence would affect the work of the Land and Titles Court.

“There is no impact on the cases scheduled before Fepulea’i,” he said. The Court cases will proceed as scheduled.”

The President’s special leave follows criminal charges filed against him on allegations that he assaulted a Security Officer of the M.J.C.A. during a function towards the end of last year. 

The Police have charged him with assault, being armed with a dangerous weapon and causing injury.

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