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Former senator sworn in as Associate Judge

[photo: Faiai family]

Former Sen. Paepae Iosefa Faiai (right hand raised and back to camera)  was sworn in Tuesday at courtroom two of the High Court as the new Associate Judge. He is accompanied by his wife Mariana (back to camera) and his aunty, Fa’ailoilo Lauvao, holding the Bible.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse presided over the swearing in ceremony while observing from the bench were associate judges.

They are Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., along with Associate Judges Su’apaia, Satele, Fa’amausili, Muasau and Tunupopo.

In the courtroom gallery were Paepae’s family members including his wife Mariana and their two children along with House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale.

Paepae was a first-term Alataua senator but stepped down from his senatorial post on Nov. 30, 2017, after he was confirmed by the Senate as the newest member of the bench.

Under local law, the Chief Justice recommends and the sitting governor appoints an associate judge to the High Court, subject to confirmation by the Senate only.

Last October, Chief Justice Michael Kruse recommended Paepae. Kruse describes Paepae as a “humble, respectful, cautious and discreet” person— thus, he possesses the disposition and temperament suited for the bench.

The 54-year old Paepae is the Leone High School Class of 1981 valedictorian and after graduation he enlisted in the US Army, serving 21 years with a career emphasis in aviation.

Paepae attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and in 2002, retired from the Army with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer III. He returned to the territory to serve his family, village and the American Samoa community.

With his military background in aviation and a US Federal Aviation Administration certification as an Airline Transport Pilot, Paepae initially worked with the local inter island airlines as a pilot and chief from 2002 to 2009. He later worked for three years with ASG, managing and flying the ASG ‘Segaula’ aircraft.

In a statement from the High Court of American Samoa, released Jan. 3, 2018, it says it’s “pleased to announce High Chief Paepae Iosefa Faiai of Nua and Se’etaga took his oath of office as the Territory’s newest High Court associate judge at a special court session held on January 2, 2018. Immediately thereafter, Chief Justice Kruse assigned Associate Judge Paepae to preside over an ongoing jury trial scheduled to take place the same morning.”

It noted that the new associate judge appointment comes at “a crucial time when the majority of the High Court’s associate judges are scheduled to depart the Territory to receive judicial training and education with the Pacific Judicial Council in Micronesia.”

It concludes that “based on his distinguished career of service to the United States and the people of American Samoa, we believe that Associate Judge Paepae will continue serving the people of American Samoa with commitment, dedication, and objectivity as a member of the High Court judiciary.”

Associate Judge Paepae Iosefa Faiai (middle with flower-lei), pictured with family members and friends, including House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale,  after he was sworn in Tuesday as the newest associate judge of the High Court. [photo: Faiai family]