Judges singles out Maiava as an officer of the court “she ought to know better”


Justices Robert Fisher and Raynor Archer singled out Senior lawyer Maiava Visekota Peteru that the “scale of her contempts is not comparable to that of” the former Prime Minister and HRPP Secretary as she is an officer of the court.

Maiava was found guilty of contempt of court with the leader of the Human Rights Protection Party, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, and Member of Parliament, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi as a result of a complaint brought on by FAST and Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, for undermining the court’s authority pertaining to the decision on electoral matters.

The court did not level any penalty given “special circumstances” of a harmony agreement referring to the agreement signed by Tuilaepa and Fiame to withdraw the contempt case. 

The Justices in their decision issued yesterday stated Maiava “has brought dishonour on her profession.”

In response to Radio Polynesia questions, Maiava said her legal Counsel is reviewing the court’s finding and opted not to comment. 

“I have received this message. The findings are being considered by my legal Counsel and I cannot comment at this stage.”

The 39-page decision by the COurt indicated that Maiava in an interview broadcast on television and radio described the Courts’ decisions as “dishonest” and said that the current Prime Minister “is bold because … she has the judiciary”.

“The scale of her contempts is not comparable to that of the first and fifth respondents. “On the other hand, her views carried the extra weight expected of a lawyer.

As an officer of the Supreme Court, she ought to have known better.”

The Justices also noted that her statement to Court: “should any of my, comments have the effect of diminishing public confidence in the Judiciary and judicial decisions I unambiguously accept that a retraction is in order” and “Should any statements made by me … including an inferred link with the FAST party, have diminished the public perception of the standing, the integrity, and impartiality of the Court, I unambiguously apologise.”

The Justices noted in the ruling: “We are not impressed by conditional retractions and apologies of that kind. They imply that the speaker remains unconvinced.”

According to the ruling,  the very purpose of Maiava’s public remarks must have been to persuade the public that at least in that instance they could have no confidence in the integrity of the Judges.

“There is nothing doubtful or contingent about the effect public remarks of that kind would have had.

They found guilty of contempt of court. “She has brought dishonour on her profession and that penalty would have been appropriate” however due to special circumstances in line with the Harmony Agreement mentioned above.

In 2019 the Samoa Law Society suspended Maiava, pending an investigation by the Society’s Tribunal. The following year the Law Society issued a statement indicating that Maiava pleaded guilty to professional misconduct in mishandling client funds.

She was suspended by the Tribunal, which was backdated to when she was first placed on suspension by the Society.