Talasa Lumepa Atoa Sa’aga, was sworn in yesterday as a District Court Judge, the newest member of the judiciary in Samoa.
Judge Sa’aga dedicated her achievements to her late parents, Va’asiliega Potoi Atoa and Lesina Atoa of Vaimoso.
During the ceremony, Judge Sa’aga thanked the Chief Justice, Patu Tia’vasu’e Falefatu Sapolu for the opportunity given to her to join the judiciary.
She then paused for a while and acknowledged the hard work of her parents who had prayed day and night for her to be able to secure a good future. “Sitting in this chair today, is the fruit of my parents’ prayers and my own work, to get a better future,” said Judge Sa’aga.
Judge Sa’aga said she would never forget her father’s advice from when she was four years of age.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In every way acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu welcomed the new judge and reminded her to put aside love and anger, and serve Samoa with honesty and without fear or favour.
“Everyone is equal under the law and it does not discriminate but treats both rich and poor, strong and weak, equally,” he said.
Judge Sa’aga was reminded that the oath she took is to serve Samoa in accordance with the Constitution and the Law.
“As a Judge, you no longer have human feelings, but stand independently under the guidance of God,” said C.J. Patu.
Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff reminded Judge Sa’aga that her appointment is an honour and privilege, a duty and commitment, not to be taken lightly, especially when she faces many challenges.
The vice-president of the Samoa Law Society, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i acknowledged another milestone for the Society, especially in Judge Sa’aga’s journey.
Her addition to the bench not only marks another milestone for women judges, but also lifts the standard of the bar to the highest level, she said.
Alalatoa described Judge Sa’aga as a high achiever, a born leader from a young age, and a student who stood out in her school days.
She then lightened the mood saying, “She was the most popular student at school, and she earned the nickname King Kong, because of her actions, but she was also named as Samoa’s version of the American actress, Marilyn Monroe.”
“It is no secret that the legal profession was once dominated by men, but the wheels have turned, and I am proud to say now that women now dominate the profession,” said Alalatoa.
Judge Sa’aga is the second U.S.P. graduate to be appointed as a judge of the Samoan Court.
Judge Sa’aga graduated from the University of the South Pacific in Vanuatu with a Bachelor of Law in 1998, and worked as a state solicitor in the Office of the Attorney General.
In 1999, she graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in legal practical and was admitted to the Fijian Bar and at the same she was admitted to the Bar in Samoa.
Judge Sa’aga is also an accredited mediator in Samoa.