Senate confirms newest Assoc Judge for High Court
In a unanimous vote of 15-0, the Senate yesterday confirmed the administration’s nomination of High Chief Muasau Tasina Tofili as the new associate judge of the High Court. Muasau , 61, of Faleniu, will fill the seat left vacant late last year when then Associate Judge Save Liuato Tuitele retired to become a candidate in this year’s gubernatorial race.
According to local law, there are to be no less than five associate judges of the High Court, who shall be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice and who shall be confirmed by the Senate only.
In his nomination letter, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said Muasau’s exemplary record of service to his family, village and the territory make him a “superb candidate” to fill the vacant associate judgeship on the High Court.
Muasau’s experience as an educator of the JROTC cadets and as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) compliance officer with the Human Resources Department “and his knowledge of Samoa language and culture lead me to believe that he will be thorough in his research, evenhanded in his decisions, and culturally informed when he considers matters which come before the court,” the governor wrote.
The nominee appeared yesterday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lualemaga Faoa, for his confirmation hearing. Several members of Muasau’s family were in the Senate gallery during the 40-minute hearing and stayed on during the Senate session when the vote was carried out.
Sen. Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson told the nominee that as a judge, there are no politics involved and “you become a loner”, which was supported by other senators.
And as a Samoan judge, Alo said, Muasau’s important role as an associate judge is to be fair in decision making as well as protecting the Samoan culture.
Sen. Lemanu Peleti Mauga noted that during Faleniu’s village curfew, Muasau is seen along the road to accompany the village aumaga and wanted to know why Muasau, who is a high chief, also stands alongside the aumaga during the curfew time.
Muasau said that this same question has being asked of him before, and said he truly believes that it’s his duty as a matai, or chief, to serve the community as well as working along side with the aumaga.
In the summary of Muasau’s professional experience, it states that he has been a senior ranking matai for the Mausau family since 1998. Additionally, he is very active matai in the family, village and community. “As a result of that, the village curfew of over 10 years, has been a strong attribute to the village/community and the territory since becoming a leader/matai,” the resume states.
Several senators who spoke during the hearing, commended the governor and the chief justice for the nomination and called on Muasau to always remember his duty as a judge when he is on the bench.
Muasau has been serving as a board member of the Development Bank of American Samoa since last year, an EEO officer since 2003, and was a JROTC instructor for the local Education Department between 1996 and 2002, according to the resume. Samoa News understands that Muasau will now step down from his DBS board member post and as a compliance officer with EEO.
Prior to returning to American Samoa and working in the territorial government, Muasau served in the U.S. military for 24 years before his retirement. Among the extracurricular activities that he enjoy, is golf, volleyball, fishing and cricket, and he is the team captain of the Faleniu men’s cricket team, “Tama o le Mua’au”.