Monday 12 December 2022 Mulinuu Apia Samoa. Translated from the files of #FaaSamoa. A Supreme Court Judge called out the staff of the Ministry of Justice and Court Administration (MJCA) for taking a break when it is not yet Christmas (e lei tāina le Kerisimasi).
Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma was sitting over the usual list of criminal mentions on Monday morning when three consecutive cases that had been adjourned from last week were found to have not been actioned.
The three cases that agitated the Supreme Court judge involved instructions by the Supreme Court, for accused parties to be assigned Legal Aid Counsels.
In each case, Justice Roma asked the defendants if a lawyer had been assigned to them and each time, they responded, no.
“Ua tafafao le ofisa poo le aufaigaluega ae lei tāina le kerisimasi..”
“The staff are already on a break when it is not yet Christmas,” observed Justice Roma.
Justice Roma showed concern that if cases are not adequately dealt with now, it would be after the two week Christmas break before things can move forward, especially for unrepresented members of the public who need to be assigned Counsels.
Over 40 criminal cases were called over before Justice Roma during criminal mentions this morning, all involving drug related crimes, domestic and sexual violence, burglary and theft, as well as murder and manslaughter.
A mother accused of causing the death of her 13 year old daughter also appeared in Court unrepresented. Prosecution requested more time to finalise charges against her.
When asked, the mother reaponded she did not have a lawyer because she could not afford one. Justice Roma instructed that a Legal Aid Counsel be assigned to the defendant due to the seriousness of the charges.
The Courts are expected to work until Friday 23rd December 2022 before breaking for two weeks, and return on Monday 9th January 2023.