Senator Paepae Faiai goes through committee with much praise

His confirmation by the full Senate is pending
fili@samoanews.com

If confirmed by the Senate as a new associate judge of the High Court, senators encourage Sen. Paepae Iosefa Faiai to always make the right decision, let God guide him in his judicial duties, and remember the people.

The words of advice were voiced during Paepae’s confirmation hearing yesterday morning before the Senate Government Operations Committee, whose chairman Senate Galeai M. Tu’ufuli informed senators that Paepae’s nomination would be presented soon to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Galeai’s remarks were made during the Senate session, following Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean’s request for the committee to present at today’s session Paepae’s name for a confirmation vote.

Usually a committee would present to the floor for a final vote of a nominee following a confirmation hearing in the morning. But Galeai said there are some minor issues that need to be reviewed. He didn’t elaborate further.

CONFIRMATION HEARING

A retired associate judge, Tuaolo said being a judge — making decisions — is a very difficult task. He noted that all Samoans are almost all related to each other and that makes it more difficult when it comes to making decisions as a judge. “Always make the right decision,” Tuaolo told Paepae, adding that there will be people calling when there is a pending court decision.

Tuaolo asked if Paepae, as a judge, would perform a marriage between two males, if they appeared before him in court. Paepae said the short and simple answer is “no”.

The majority of senators who attended the hearing and addressed the nominee gave the impression that Paepae will be confirmed as a judge. The mood during the 30-minute hearing was solemn, as senators spoke about the Senate's loss with Paepae’s departure, adding that the Alataua senator has done a lot for the people of American Samoa during his 11-month tenure as a senator in the Fono.

“Your hard work in the Senate will never be forgotten, even though it was only a short time that we worked together with you,” Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga said. “You are always seeking ways for the betterment of all people.”

If confirmed, Nuanuaolefeagaiga told Paepae, who chairs the Senate Port/Transportation Committee that next week Tuesday “will be our last time together as senators” and “we will give you up to serve in the High Court.”

“Let God guide you in your decision making and never forget our people,” was the statement echoed by the majority of the senators during the hearing, where Paepae’s wife, family members — including his sister, Public Works director Faleosina Voigt — and friends were present in the Senate gallery.

Paepae expressed sincere appreciation to his colleagues for their recommendations and blessings. He said it wasn’t an easy decision for him to make, but he discussed it with his wife, family members and friends.

If confirmed by the Senate, Paepae will have to resign from the Fono.

In his Oct. 25th letter to the governor recommending Paepae, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said, “I have more than a passing acquaintance with High Chief Paepae’s personal family background, which I note is very much reflected in his educational and career pursuits.”

He said Paepae’s “personal achievements bespeak the same level of diligence and honest industry I witnessed with his family.”

“My observations of HC Paepae are that he is humble, respectful, cautious and discreet; thus, he possesses the disposition and temperament suited for the bench,” said Kruse. “Moreover, I am confident that he would serve the judiciary with commitment and dedication.”

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