27 Mar 2009

American Samoa Senate changes qualification requirements for judges

10:48 am on 27 March 2009

The American Samoa senate has approved a bill that will change the qualifications of associate judges of the High Court and increase the number of judges.

Current law states that there are five associate judges of the High Court but the Senate increased that number to seven with three from the Western District - the most populous in the territory and two each from the Manua and Eastern districts.

The Senate also amended the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 70.

Additionally, the bill sets qualifications an appointee must meet, such as the person must be a "leading matai title from the village in which his matai title originates, for at least five years prior to appointment."

The bill also states no two associate justices shall reside in or be from the same village.

Additionally, vacant positions for associate judge shall be advertised. The judges would require reconfirmation every four year.

The bill now goes to the House for its consideration.