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MATAI TITLE DISPUTES

MATAI TITLE DISPUTES

 

§1.Territorial Registrar Procedures

2.Procedural Rules

2(1)—General Provisions

2(2)—Exempt from Rules of Civil Procedure

2(3)—Judges & Justices

2(4)—Family Meeting Requirement

2(5)—Counterclaims

2(6)—Retrials

2(7)—Stays of Proceedings

3.Appellate Review

4.Traditional Determination of Matai

4(1)—General Provisions

4(2)—Split Titles

4(3)—Joint Title Holders

4(4)—Holding Two Titles

5.Initial Qualifications for Title

6.Statutory Qualifications for Title

6(1)—General Provisions

6(2)—Best Hereditary Right

6(3)—Clan Support

6(4)—Forcefulness, Character & Personality, Knowledge of Customs

6(5)—Value to Family, Village and County

7.Priority of Statutory Criteria

8.Determination of Prevailing Candidate

9.Enforcement of Matai Title Decisions

10.Removal of Matai

 


 


§ 1Territorial Registrar Procedures

 

Where objector merely protests candidate’s registration for title, objector’s intervention in the action will not cause objector to become candidate.Utu v. Tu’itu’i, 2 A.S.R. 184.

 

Where objector to applicant to be registered as matai title holder is not eligible at time he objects, which must be within thirty days after filing of application, then he cannot become matai title holder, even though he would have become eligible by time of hearing by virtue of his having resided in American Samoa for five years preceding, and right to hold matai title vests in applicant upon expiration of thirty days after his application if he is eligible and if there are no other eligible applicants at that time.Stevens v. Tee, 2 A.S.R. 627.

 

After time for objecting to matai title registration has run, one person cannot substitute his objection for that of timely objector who has withdrawn claim.In re Matai Title Lutali, 4 A.S.R. 10.

 

Using matai title without being registered as holder is criminal offense.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Law provides penalties for persons using matai title without having registered it.(CAS 6.0109.)Mailo v. Fuimaono, 4 A.S.R. 757.

 

Matai title not registered before November 1, 1932 should not be considered for registration since law requires that all matai titles be registered (CAS 6.0102; CAS 6.0103.)Mailo v. Fuimaono, 4 A.S.R. 757.

 

Only in rare and equitable circumstances will Court allow intervention in Matai title case by candidate who did not timely proceed before the territorial registrar.In re Matai Title “Maga,” 1 A.S.R.2d 39 (Land & Titles Div. 1980).

 

The Territorial Registrar's records on land and matai-title registrations are, without contrary evidence, presumed to be accurate.In re Matai Title Seva'aetasi, 19 A.S.R.2d 133.

 

The Territorial Registrar's discretion to rule on the legal sufficiency of a claim to a matai title is minimal.The Registrar's authority is, essentially, limited to a determination that information in the claimant's petition is "valid," A.S.C.A. § 1.0405(c); see also Id. at § 1.0407(c), and that the "claim, certificate, and petition are in proper form.In Re Matai Title “Leniu”, 29 A.S.R.2d 126.

 

Matai titles are regulated by law.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0401-1.0414.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

The territorial registrar maintains the title register, A.S.C.A. § 1.0401, and may register successors to vacant titles only after a specific administrative process, A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0405-1.0408, 1.0410.The court must resolve disputed claims that remain unresolved by the administrative process.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

The territorial registrar is prohibited from accepting counterclaims for the title or objections to the offer following the sixtieth day after the registrar posts notice of the original offeree's claim.A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(a).In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(a) does not permit a substitute candidate after the sixtieth day under all circumstances, including a candidate's death.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

The death of one matai title candidate does not automatically entitle the solely remaining candidate to the title by default.A fair and reasonable opportunity must be given to the contentious elements within the family, or those who supported the deceased candidate, to promote their title candidates and to the family to resolve their internal differences.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

Without evidence to the contrary, the Court must presume that the Territorial Registrar’s records are accurate.Ripley v. American Samoa Gov't, 4 A.S.R.3d 331 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0401, which mandates that that matai titles not registered before January 1, 1969 cannot thereafter be registered does not violate the constitutional policy set forth in Am. Samoa Rev. Const. art. I, § 3 of protecting “the lands, customs, culture, and traditional Samoan family organization of persons of Samoan ancestry.”Ripley v. American Samoa Gov't, 4 A.S.R.3d 331. (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0401 does not apply only to newly-created titles. Ripley v. American Samoa Gov't, 4 A.S.R.3d 331 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

§ 2Procedural Rules

 

§ 2(1)—General Provisions

 

Person not party to matai title determination at tile order of dismissal entered, lacks standing to later seek relief from order of dismissal.F. R. Civ. P. 60(b).(CAS 6.0608.)In re Matai Title Lutali, 4 A.S.R. 10.

 

Where prospective matai title holder applies to court for determination as matai, and two objectors intervene, three persons become candidate for title.(CAS 6.0106.)Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.04.09, requiring the Court to write findings of fact in matai title cases, does not require negative findings.In re Matai Title “Lualemaga,” 2 A.S.R.2d 49 (App. Div. 1985).

 

Court is called upon to evaluate a claimant to a contested matai title under statutory criteria only when the family cannot, in its customary manner of selecting a matai, reach agreement over who should hold the title.In re Matai Title Ma'ae, 6 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Proposed registration of matai title can be contested even by someone who does not himself claim the title, and court need not bestow a vacant title merely because only one candidate wishes to hold it.In re Matai Title Ma'ae, 6 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Territorial statutes concerning matai titles and other customary matters represent the best efforts of the legislature to incorporate custom into written law and to provide procedures for its preservation and enforcement. In re Matai Title Sotoa, 6 A.S.R.2d 91.

 

Court deciding matai title disputes is not required to consider the views of the village, county or district councils except to the extent that they are evidence of facts that are relevant to issues properly before the court.A.S.C.A. § l.0401 et seq.In re Matai Title Sotoa, 8 A.S.R.2d 10.

 

In matai title dispute, recognition or non-recognition of matai by village, district, and county councils were properly before the court only insofar as might be relevant to whether the matai had wilfully failed to comply with customary requirements and formalities for acceptance and recognition by the village.In re Matai Title Sotoa, 8 A.S.R.2d 10.

 

Village, county, and district councils have no power to veto a court decision, rendered after trial in accordance with statutory procedure, that a particular person is entitled to hold a matai title.A.S.C.A. § 1.0401 et seq.In re Matai Title Sotoa, 8 A.S.R.2d 10.

 

Where certificate of irreconcilable dispute from Secretary of Samoan Affairs was issued upon misinformation given by a party to the dispute, proceedings in Land & Titles Division would be stayed pending certification by the Secretary of compliance with statutory procedures for attempted resolution.A.S.C.A § 43.0302.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele (Mem.), 12 A.S.R.2d 8.

 

Objection to a matai title claim was not filed within the sixty days required by statute where the timely original objection was filed and withdrawn by relatives without objector's knowledge and his motion to intervene in the case was not filed until eight years later.A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(a).In re Matai Title Liua, 15 A.S.R.2d 80.

 

The 60 day time period for filing objections to a claim of matai title, as required by A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(a), runs from the time the Territorial Registrar is satisfied that the claim is in proper form.In Re Matai Title “Leniu”, 29 A.S.R.2d 126.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(d) only applies to a family with fewer than 25 qualified members.In Re Matai Title “I`aulualo” of the Village of Afono, 29 A.S.R.2d 128.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0407 has no provision for the transfer of signatures.In Re Matai Title “I`aulualo” of the Village of Afono, 29 A.S.R.2d 128.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0407 functions like a jurisdictional limit on the Land and Titles Division.If a candidate does not submit a petition with 25 signatures, the court simply cannot consider his claim.In Re Matai Title “I`aulualo” of the Village of Afono, 29 A.S.R.2d 128.

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 43.0302, where a matai title candidate insists on his position that the matter be taken to court, meetings must first be held at the Office of Samoan Affairs.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 3.0208(b), the land and titles division has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to matai titles and land, and provides that in matai cases one justice and four associate judges hear the controversy.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

The statutory selection process for a successor in matai title cases is an alternative to the preferred historical selection process in which the extended family meets and, by consensus, selects a successor based upon that family’s particular traditions and practices, and in order to preserve the broad discretion afforded by statute to the associate judges to determine the best qualified successor to a matai title, the court must resist the imposition of broad invariable rules of preference for certain individual attributes of the candidates.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

§ 2(2)—Exempt from Rules of Civil Procedure

 

Court is not bound by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in cases involving title to land or Matai title disputes, and therefore, findings of fact and conclusions of law are not required.In re Matai Title “Tuiolesega,” 1 A.S.R.2d 37 (Land & Titles Div. 1980).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 3.0242, proceedings before the land and titles division of the High Court are specifically exempted from the rules of civil procedure, and that division is specifically authorized to act in each case in such a manner as it considers to be most consistent with natural justice and convenience.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

The carefully developed statutory plan for deciding matai title controversies is unique and indicates clear legislative intent to insulate such trials from the strict application of arguably inapposite judicial rules, practices, and procedures applicable to nearly all other civil controversies within the jurisdiction of the High Court.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

§ 2(3)—Judges & Justices

 

Statute prescribing participation in matai title dispute of one law-trained judge, as well as four associate judges who are not lawyers but who are chosen for their familiarity with Samoan custom, did not require that the law-trained judge be present during all deliberations of the associate judges.A.S.C.A. § 3.0240.In re Matai Title La'apui, 4 A.S.R.2d 7.

 

If a majority of the four associate judges make a decision the justice need not participate in the four associate judges' deliberations.In re Matai Title Tualolo, 28 A.S.R.2d 137.

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 3.0208(b), the land and titles division has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to matai titles and land, and provides that in matai cases one justice and four associate judges hear the controversy.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

The Legislature having carefully constructed a statutory scheme for associate judges to decide matai title controversies, and for the exclusive means of such judges’ recommendation, appointment, and confirmation, there is no legal basis for the contention that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior could appoint an entirely new panel.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

Because the Revised Constitution of American Samoa authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to appoint the Chief Justice and such Associate Justices as necessary under R.C.A.S. Art. III Sec. 3, and, under 48 U.S.C. 1662(a) (1983), Congress has prohibited any amendments to or modifications of the R.C.A.S. except by Act of Congress, it appears clear that the Secretary of the Interior’s judicial appointment powers extend only to the Chief Justice and Associate Justice(s); and to judicially extend that power of appointment to include associate judges, whose role in matai title controversies is to hear and decide matters pertaining to the Samoan culture, appears neither prudent nor legally possible without the prior consent of Congress.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0409 and § 3.0221, by prescribing what the trial court is to determine in matai title controversies and the priority of the considerations, and by prohibiting any justice of the High Court from participating in the ultimate decision of the four-member associate judge panel unless to break a tie, the Legislature has strongly indicated that in the absence of an uncontested family consensus as to who should succeed to a vacant matai title, the next best selectors of the successor are associate judges, who historically have been ranking titleholders within their own extended families.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

§ 2(4)—Family Meeting Requirement

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0406(b), a prerequisite to filing a claim to succeed to a vacant matai title is that a family meeting was held for the purpose of selecting the successor, according to the traditions of the family, and that the family thus had a meaningful opportunity to decide for itself whether it can select a new titleholder without judicial intervention.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 4 A.S.R.3d 273 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(2), the criteria for judicial determination of a matai controversy includes the wish of the majority or plurality of the customary clans of the family with respect for the common Samoan custom of choosing a matai by a consensus of the participants at a meeting of the family during which the integral elements of discussions and good faith efforts to settle disputes occur.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 4 A.S.R.3d 273 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Where a number of gatherings are held, those which include only a particular matai title candidate’s immediate family, clan, or some other portion of the extended family cannot be classified as extended family meetings.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 4 A.S.R.3d 273 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Where there have been several meetings of an extended family to consider matai title succession with varying outcomes and a consensus to postpone the selection decision, there has not been a meaningful family meeting which the court can consider so as to adjudicate a title dispute.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 4 A.S.R.3d 273 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

§ 2(5)—Counterclaims

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0407(b), a counterclaim to a vacant matai title must be signed by no fewer than 25 supporters related by blood to the vacant title.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 4 A.S.R.3d 273 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

§ 2(6)—Retrials

 

There is no clear legislative intent to preclude otherwise qualified candidates from participating in the retrial of a matai title controversy.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

§ 2(7)—Stays of Proceedings

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 43.0803 and T.C.R.C.P. 62(d), a court, in its sound discretion, may stay a final judgment only for cause, such as irreparable harm to the appellant if not granted or irreparable harm to the appellee if granted, and after considering the likelihood of success on appeal and whether the public interest would be affected by a stay.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 309 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Although in most matai title cases the balance of hardships will militate strongly in favor of granting a stay, even when reversal on appeal is highly unlikely, where the equities do not dramatically sway the balance in favor of either party a dispute should be resolved without undue delay since a family’s welfare and fortune depend largely on having a leader to allocate and protect the family’s lands, oversee family matters, and otherwise serve and lead family members.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 309 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Where there is a consensus of the clans of a family which is not likely to change, it is more important for an investiture to proceed than for a stay to be granted because of a party’s personal interests. In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 309 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

There is a public interest in denying stays that serve to encourage litigants to appeal only to postpone the effective date of judgments against them.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 309 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

§ 3Appellate Review

 

Because decisions in matai cases are based on customs and traditions there are no issues of law for the appellate division to review.In re Matai title “Aoelua,” 2 A.S.R.2d 104 (1986).

 

Appellate court will not reverse trial court's finding with regard to hereditary right of candidates for matai title where judgment is supported by substantial evidence.In re Matai Title Togiola, 3 A.S.R.2d 127.

 

Trial court holding that no candidate prevailed on issue of best hereditary right was not substantial error justifying reversal by appellate court, where (1) trial court found that there were "minute distinctions" among candidates' blood relationship to original titleholder, and (2) candidate who prevailed at trial would clearly have had the best hereditary right under traditional rule that hereditary right to title depends on blood relationship to any holder of the title.In re Matai Title Le'iato, 3 A.S.R.2d 133.

 

In the absence of evidence of contrary Samoan custom, appellate court would not reverse trial court judgment that candidate for matai title could cumulate two separate claims to ancestry from original titleholder in determining the degree of his blood relationship to titleholder.In re Matai Title La'apui, 4 A.S.R.2d 7.

 

Trial court judgment refusing to remove matai would not be overturned on appeal, but would be modified to enjoin the matai to exercise the leadership qualities with which the court credited him when it found him best qualified to hold the title under statutory criteria of "forcefulness, character, and personality," and "value to the family, village, and country." In re Matai Title Sotoa, 6 A.S.R.2d 91.

 

Where trial court, in deciding that a trusteeship devolved upon the appellee in his capacity as a successor in matai title to the original trustee, had failed to consider a plausible argument raised at trial to the effect that the trusteeship should instead have devolved upon the original trustee's successors in the office of district governor, but the appellee had recently assumed the office of district governor, the question whether the trusteeship devolved upon the holders of the office of district governor of the matai title was moot in the context of the case and remand to trial court was inappropriate.Mose v. Tufele, 12 A.S.R.2d 31.

 

In most matai title cases the balance of hardships will militate strongly in favor of granting a stay pending appeal, as the only hardship on the prevailing party is that he must wait a year or so to register the title; on the other hand, if the prevailing party quickly registers the title, holds the traditional installation ceremonies, but has his right to hold the title reversed on appeal, the consequences for the whole family could be disastrous.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 71.

 

Even though the Appellate Division has rarely, if ever, reversed a judgment of the Land and Titles Division in a matai-title case, the "balance of hardships" will generally weigh heavily in favor of granting a stay.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 71.

 

In reviewing a decision of the Land and Titles Division or the Trial Division, the Appellate Division utilizes a "clear error" standard.This standard of review applies to the lower court's evaluation of witnesses' credibility.Paolo v. Utu, 26 A.S.R.2d 18.

 

The trial court’s findings with regard to matai criteria can only be set aside if clearly erroneous. Lealai v. Aoelua, 1 A.S.R.3d 12 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Trial Court’s determination of the candidates' hereditary rankings can only be set aside if clearly erroneous.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Trial Court’s determination of the family clans can only be set aside if clearly erroneous. Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Trial Court’s determination regarding the support of the majority of the family can only be set aside if clearly erroneous.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Trial court's factual findings with respect to the four matai title criteria can only be reversed if they are clearly erroneous.Tuaolo v. Fruean, 1 A.S.R.3d33 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 3.0240, appeals from the land and titles division, unlike other appeals, afford the associate judges equal voice in such appellate decisions.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

To insure that culturally experienced jurists also fairly participate at the appellate level, the Legislature has provided that associate judges sitting in the appellate division on appeals from the land and titles division have equal decision-making power with the justices assigned to that case.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

§ 4Traditional Determination of Matai

 

§ 4(1)—General Provisions

 

Historically, only recognized heads of families could elect holder of “matai” title.Aumavae v. Moefaauo, 1 A.S.R. 38.

 

Holder of “matai” title has the right to nominate his successor and the family has the right of confirmation.Matautia v. Tautunu, 1 A.S.R. 226.

 

“Matai” has right to express his wish as to successor and, in choosing successor, family must give such wish due consideration.Tupua v. Aumavae, 1 A.S.R. 231.

 

Prior to the raising of the American Flag in Samoa, according to Samoan custom a “matai” designated his successor.Sagapolu v. Tanielu, 1 A.S.R. 331.

 

A “pule” can resto only in one person or title and “pule” in a title means that that title has authority over another title or titles.Sagapolu v. Tanielu, 1 A.S.R. 331.

 

“Pule” or power to select “matai” gradually transferred to the family members and out of the hands of the individual “matai.”Sagapolu v. Tanielu, 1 A.S.R. 331.

 

Where family is closely split in selection of “matai”, former “matai”, if living, may choose successor and if not living, the closest male blood descendant in the highest degree of the “matai” name may choose the successor.Sapapolu v. Tanielu, 1 A.S.R. 331.

 

In considering selection of “matai,” family should take into account the true descendant, rendering of service to the family and taking care of the family property.Sagapolu v. Tanielu, 1 A.S.R. 331.

 

Court will take judicial notice of custom in most jurisdictions where award of title, name or position depends on descent that holder from male line will be chosen where possible.Fava v. Moso’oi, 1 A.S.R. 375.

 

The Annual Fono of 1926 determined that, in the trial of “matai” cases, question of hereditary right would take precedence over question of fitness of applicant to hold “matai” title.Fia v. Pine, 1 A.S.R. 387.

 

Where candidates for title have equal hereditary right, question of fitness to hold title becomes relevant.Fia v. Pine, 1 A.S.R. 387.

 

Where two candidates for matai title have equal hereditary right to hold title, name should be given to the applicant who filed for the title first and applicant with the greatest number of supporters.Muavae v. Ui, 1 A.S.R. 399.

 

Court does not favor awarding title to candidate selected by one who has pule over the title on that basis alone.Mulivai v. Atofau, 1 A.S.R. 409.

 

Court favors title candidate who will be agreeable to as many of the family members as possible and who is familiar with the material affairs of the family.Mulivai v. Atofau, 1 A.S.R. 409.

 

Under Samoan custom the holder of a matai name was selected by the family whereas the right to select a rules was vested in certain families.Young v. Tufele, 1 A.S.R. 429.

 

The name “Tuimanua” is that of a ruler and not a matai name in the sense that matai is commonly understood in Samoa.Young v. Tufele, 1 A.S.R. 429.

 

In considering appointment of matai, court will inquire whether candidate is a member of and supported by a large majority of the family and whether candidate is familiar with and capable of handling family affairs.Fonoti v. Galo, 1 A.S.R. 442.

 

Court will award matai title to candidate having best hereditary right, and who has lived with an renders service to the family and who is the choice of a large majority of the family.Malu v. Ene, 1 A.S.R. 446.

 

Court awards matai titles on basis of who is the true descendant of the last holder of the name, who is the choice of the family and who would make a good matai.Kalala v. Ekuati, 1 A.S.R. 454.

 

Court will not discuss relative fitness of matai candidates unless both have equal hereditary rights to the name, then the balance will tip in favor of the candidate best prepared to hold the name by reason of education.Uele v. Taleni, 1 A.S.R. 458.

 

Court is bound to choose matai candidate strictly on basis of heredity and may not consider worth or ability.Taofi v. Foster, 1 A.S.R. 464.

 

Court may choose to appoint none of the candidates before it to assume matai title and may leave title vacant pending the application of a suitable candidate.Sami v. Semaia, 1 A.S.R. 481.

 

While Fono declared that matai names should be awarded on the basis of heredity, court will not appoint candidate who has hereditary right to title but is otherwise unfit to assume it.Sami v. Semaia, 1 A.S.R. 481.

 

Matai name and land case parties who do not take their cases before the Judicial Commission but instead waive this right to go directly to the High Court face court’s final decision from which no appeal can be taken.Moelupe v. Pisa, 1 A.S.R. 491.

 

Where matai name candidate is ineligible to hold title from standpoint of heredity and there is no other qualified candidate before the court, court will dismiss the case subject to reopening upon the petition of a new candidate.Moelupe v. Pisa, 1 A.S.R. 491.

 

First criterion court uses to select new matai is that of heredity; i.e., is the candidate a true member of the family to which the matai name belongs.Moelupe v. Pisa, 1 A.S.R. 491.

 

Matai title “Tuitele” is one of the oldest and most important titles in Samoa; several of the Tuiteles having been classed as kings.Magauli v. Save, 1 A.S.R. 509.

 

Court may call disinterested parties as its own witnesses in matai title cases to testify as to existence of alleged title holder. Moelupe v. Savali, 1 A.S.R. 517.

 

Court will not appoint matai candidate to hold vacant title where such action would serve no useful purpose and only cause trouble.Fanene v. Yandall, 1 A.S.R. 535.

 

At the direction of the Annual Fono of 1936, Court will inquire only as to which candidate has best hereditary right to title and questions such as fitness of candidates will not be considered.Foleni v. Faateleupu, 1 A.S.R. 541.

 

Wish of Samoan people has been indicated by two separate Fonos that court select matai strictly on basis of hereditary right to name.Teutusi v. Faga, 1 A.S.R. 543.

 

Because heredity is sole criterion for matai selection, all testimony bearing on character, ability and past service of title candidate is irrelevant.Teutusi v. Faga, 1 A.S.R. 543.

 

Where hereditary rights of candidates are equal, Court may consider general fitness of candidates to hold title.Petelo v. Sope, 1 A.S.R. 557.

 

1937 law which requires Court to select matai on basis of four considerations rules out award of matai title by one having pule over that title.Ioasa v. Aivao, 1 A.S.R. 567.

 

Custom of American Samoa requires that losing candidate in matai title case abide by decision of Court and effect reconciliation with selected candidate to end that family may live in peace and harmony.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 1 A.S.R. 587.

 

Prior decision of court determining matai title holder is inapplicable since it preceded legislation establishing more democratic procedures and eligibility requirements in selection of matai.Simaile v. Lafoa’i, 2 A.S.R. 170.

 

Court will not order man registered as matai if he does not wish to be so registered.Faagata v. Taupo, 2 A.S.R. 271.

 

Decisions of court which based selection of matai on old custom of choice of one man, before enactment of legislation providing specific procedures, are not applicable to present disputes over matai titles, and right to resort to court for public trial in accordance with present law is not barred by such prior decisions.Simaile v. Lafoa’i, 2 A.S.R. 170.

 

When court awards matai title, it is not bound by prior practice of family of alternating titles among branches of family but is bound only by statute.Tiumalu v. Tiumalu, 3 A.S.R. 502.

 

“Mauga” is not split title.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

Evidence that prior litigants treated title as not split, tends to show “Mauga” is single title.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

Fact there is only one objector to claimant of matai title holder indicates objector was selected at meeting to hold title.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

Only a registered matai has power, authority and pule of a matai.Malaga v. Alaga, 4 A.S.R. 735.

 

“Maugaoali’i” has never been used as matai title in American Samoa.Mailo v. Fuimaono, 4 A.S.R. 757.

 

Under Samoan custom “Mauga” title is among oldest and most influential matai titles of American Samoa.Taufaasau v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 947.

 

The “Mauga” title is a paramount matai title of American Samoa and the highest ranking title in Pago Pago.Gi v. American Samoa Gov't, 5 A.S.R.3d 254 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Matai titles are of central importance in Samoan customs, and maintaining a proper selection process is important to preserve fa`a Samoa.Kruse v. Am. Samoa Gov’t, 6 A.S.R.3d 318 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b), which sets forth qualifications for candidates to matai titles, was enacted with the purpose of ensuring that titleholders possess close relationships with American Samoa.Such purpose is related to the government’s duty to preserve fa`a Samoa, and the statute’s restrictions constitute a rational way to ensure that a titleholder has a close association with the territory.Kruse v. Am. Samoa Gov’t, 6 A.S.R.3d 318 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

§ 4(2)—Split Titles

 

Court does not favor splitting “matai” titles among two or more persons.Tupua v. Aumavae, 1 A.S.R. 231.

 

Court does not favor splitting “matai” title among two or more persons.Mauga-Moimoi v. Taelase, 1 A.S.R. 276.

 

Court will not appoint two people to hold the same matai name.Kalala v. Ekuati, 1 A.S.R. 454.

 

A matai title may be split, and once established by founder, section of family descending has right to title as well as descendants of original title holder.In re Matai Title Salave’a, 4 A.S.R. 44.

 

Splitting paramount title would lessen its influence in Samoan affairs, disintegrate important family, and be inconsistent with constitutional obligation of court to protect Samoan family organization.Rev. Con. of Am. Samoa, Art. I, Section 3 (1968). In re High Court Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

Conclusion in Tauvevematalio v. Fanene Filo, Trial Division, Civil No. 1035 (1970) that title may be “split” is reversed—two (2) persons may only hold same title jointly.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

Where register of matai title holders shows that two persons have been registered as “Fanene” matai at the same time, title is split title.Fanene v. Fanene, 4 A.S.R. 603.

 

Where prior decision held that two persons may hold “Fanene” matai title and applicant has qualifications, court may make him matai even though another matai holds title concurrently.Fanene v. Fanene, 4 A.S.R. 603.

 

§ 4(3)—Joint Title Holders

 

Joint title holders share single matai title, with attributes of that single title, with right of survivorship.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

Two (2) persons holding same matai title jointly share all duties, responsibilities, honors, privileges and respect due titleholder, including tenancy in common of communal lands.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

§ 4(4)—Holding Two Titles

 

Under Samoan custom, man cannot have two matai titles at same time, and must resign present title to accept higher ranking one.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Man cannot hold two matai titles at same time, and determination of candidate as matai is subject to his resignation from present title.Saufea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Since person cannot hold two matai titles at the same time, he must resign title presently held before he can be registered for new title.Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

After court determines matai title holder, she must resign all presently held matai titles held within three weeks after date of judicial decree.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

§ 5Initial Qualifications

 

In matai title cases, no evidence may be admitted attacking the validity of previously held titles as all previous holders of matai titles are assumed to have held their names legally.Teutusi v. Faga, 1 A.S.R. 543.

 

Assault with deadly weapon is infamous crime and disqualifies candidate from eligibility for matai title.Akeimo v. Mulu, 2 A.S.R. 89.

 

Candidate for matai who has committed infamous crime cannot be registered as matai.Akeimo v. Mulu, 2 A.S.R. 89.

 

Determination as to whether crime is infamous, and therefore excludes matai convicted thereof from registration, depends on maximum punishment which court is authorized to impose and not what court in fact did impose.Akeimo v. Mulu, 2 A.S.R. 89.

 

Candidate for matai title who has not resided in American Samoa for five years preceding vacancy in title is ineligible, since statute insures that matai is familiar with customs of American Samoa and of needs and habits of family.Titi v. Suiava, 2 A.S.R. 160.

 

Applicant for matai title who has been convicted of burglary is ineligible to hold matai title.Simaile v. Lafoa’i, 2 A.S.R. 170.

 

Where person is registered as matai after he fails to notify court of conviction for forgery and embezzlement as he is required to do by law, registration is of no effect and void, since person cannot be matai who has been so convicted.Taliutafa v. Toaga, 2 A.S.R. 218.

 

Candidate for matai title who has not resided continuously within limits of American Samoa for five years preceding vacancy in title is not eligible to become matai.Hunkin v. Pio, 2 A.S.R. 233.

 

Applicant to be registered as matai title holder who was born in Western Samoa and who was not registered in American Samoa within thirteen years after birth, is ineligible to become matai. Faagata v. Taupo, 2 A.S.R. 271.

 

Mere temporary absence from American Samoa with intention to return does not effect a change in domicile so as to render candidate ineligible on grounds that he has not resided in Samoa for five years preceding vacancy in title.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Requirement of Code that candidate for matai title have continuous residency in American Samoa for five years preceding vacancy in title means having domicile in American Samoa for that time, and mere temporary presence in another place for purpose of pleasure, health, or business does not affect domicile.Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Candidate for matai title who was born in Western Samoa and who has not registered as inhabitant of American Samoa is ineligible.Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Eligibility of person to be matai title holder requires that he be resident of American Samoa for five years preceding date of his application or objection.Stevens v. Tee, 2 A.S.R.627.

 

Applicant for matai title is eligible therefore, even if he lacks any blood of family, if he is member of family under Samoan custom.Atoa v. Meredith, 3 A.S.R. 159.

 

Sec. 926(b) (amended) of Code requires 5 years continuous residence in American Samoa immediately preceding vacancy in title for eligibility for matai title.Tago v. Hunkin, 3 A.S.R. 427.

 

Code requires that matai title holder must be at least one-half Samoan blood.(CAS 926.)Malaga v. Mase, 3 A.S.R. 518.

 

Adopted person or person who has married into family may become matai.Betham v. Faumuina, 3 A.S.R. 537.

 

Court will seek to preserve “Faa-Samoa” in construing Matai Determination Statute.In re Matai Title Fagaima, 4 A.S.R. 83.

 

Matai title candidate must meet statutory residence requirement by being actually present in American Samoa for required period and have intent to remain.R.C.A.S. 6.0112.In re Matai Title Fagaima, 4 A.S.R. 83.

 

1 A.S.C. 752(a) requires on year of actual residence in American Samoa immediately preceding any claim for or objection to a matai title.In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

1 A.S.C. 752(d) provides statutory procedure for those not physically present in American Samoa to register as absent residents.In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

1 A.S.C. 752(b)(1) and (2) allows absences from American Samoa for education or military service, without disqualifying absent resident from claiming or objecting to matai title.In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

Registering as an absent resident solely to qualify for matai title is not sufficient under 1 A.S.C. 752.In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

Eligibility requirements of 1 A.S.C. 752 for matai applicants and objectors will be strictly construed to preserve “Fa’a Samoa.”In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

Ambiguous statute will not be construed literally so as to frustrate obvious intent of legislature that court select matai if family is unable to do so.Aseuga v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Law setting forth eligibility for matai title requires that person succeed to matai title, which implies that there must have been previous title holder (CAS 6.0101.)Mailo v. Fuimaono, 4 A.S.R. 757.

 

Statute requires that applicant for matai title must show right to succession which implies that title name existed before claim was filed but has been vacated.(CAS 6.0104.)Mailo v. Fuimaono, 4 A.S.R. 757.

 

Only in rare and equitable circumstances will Court allow intervention in Matai title case by candidate who did not timely proceed before the territorial registrar.In re Matai Title “Maga,” 1 A.S.R.2d 39 (Land & Titles Div. 1980).

 

Where a candidate for a matai title might not have been born on American soil but was born of inhabitants of American Samoa and has lived in American Samoa for at least ten years prior to registering for the title, he comes within the exception of A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b)(2) to the requirement that candidates be born on American soil.In re Matai Title “Le’iato,” 2 A.S.R.2d 94 (Land & Titles Div. 1986).

 

No one is eligible to claim or object to the succession to a matai title unless he has resided in American Samoa for one calendar year immediately preceding the date of the claim or objection. A.S.C.A. § 1.0404.In re Matai Title Niuatoa, 16 A.S.R.2d 25.

 

Matai who for the last ten years has lived, worked, and owned a home in the United States, but occasionally visited American Samoa and was registered to vote there, was not an American Samoan resident and could not claim succession to a matai title.In re Matai Title Niuatoa, 16 A.S.R.2d 25.

 

An applicant for matai-title registration is normally required to submit, among other things, a "certificate from the chiefs of the village to which the title is attached to the effect that the matai title is an old and traditional title of the Samoan people."A.S.C.A. § 1.0405(b).In re Matai Title Seva'aetasi, 19 A.S.R.2d 133.

 

Despite a written objection by the leading chiefs of the village, a matai title was ordered to be registered in the applicant's name as an "old and traditional title of the Samoan people" when the Territorial Registrar's records pointed to recognition of the title's status in a village prior to its registration, and court cases affirmed the family's landholdings.A.S.C.A. § 1.0405(b).In re Matai Title Seva'aetasi, 19 A.S.R.2d 133.

 

Application for matai title was dismissed when the applicant failed to comply with requirements and showed no real interest in pursuing the title.In re Matai Title Fonoti, 20 A.S.R.2d 22.

 

In order to register for a matai title under the absent resident provision, which requires that absence from the Territory in the year preceding the filing of matai claim or counterclaim was due to medical reasons, an applicant must produce more than a cursory and equivocal statement from a doctor.A.S.C.A. § 1.0404(b)(3).In re Matai Title Fonoti, 20 A.S.R.2d 22.

 

Candidates who do not meet the residency requirements of A.S.C.A. § 1.0404 will be, at that time, ineligible to claim succession to a matai title.In re Matai Title Fonoti, 20 A.S.R.2d 22.

 

Active service for the matai and the family is necessary to have the requisite standing to petition for a matai's removal for cause; however, only family membership is necessary to have standing to petition for the removal of a matai who has been absent from American Samoa for more than one year.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0411, 1.0412.Aoelua v. Aoelua Family, 21 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

As long as a matai-title candidate acts within his legal rights, he remains eligible for the title, even if he abuses the traditional selection process by a premature offer of registration which forces other candidates to object to protect their interests.In re Matai Title Atiumaletavai, 22 A.S.R.2d 94.

 

In regards to a candidate's matai-title qualifications, American Samoa follows the traditional rule of determining domicile or permanent residency by the union of physical presence at a particular place and intent to indefinitely fix habitation there, frequently denoted as the place to which, when a person is absent, he or she intends to return.In re Matai Title Atiumaletavai, 22 A.S.R.2d 94.

 

A citizen of Western Samoa, born in that country of parents who were not inhabitants of American Samoa, is ineligible to hold a matai title in American Samoa.A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(a).Toilolo v. Poti, 23 A.S.R.2d 130.

 

A person born outside American soil is eligible for a matai title only if both parents were inhabitants of American Samoa and were temporarily residing outside of American Samoa or engaged in foreign travel at the time of that person's birth.A.S.C.A. § 1.0403.Toilolo v. Poti, 24 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

Regarding the statutory exception for families having fewer than 25 adult, blood family-members, the term "family" is equated with the claimant's or counter-claimant's clan for purposes of testing the validity of matai-title petitions.A.S.C.A. § 1.0405, 1.0407.Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

Until there is further legislated direction, the word "family" is equated with the claimant's or counterclaimant's clan for purposes of testing the validity of the petitions.In Re Matai Title Leano, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

Requirement of A.S.C.A. § 1.0407 that a counterclaim or objection to succession to a matai title must be supported by a petition signed by no less than 25 persons related by blood to the title in question is not a mere "formality."Rather, the Fono has determined that at least twenty‑five or more qualified family members constitutes a serious enough contention within a family to warrant access to the judicial process.In re the Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

Pursuant to A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b) the requirement that parents are" temporarily residing outside of American Samoa" connotes a short time, or at least a definite intention to return to American Samoa.In re the Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

The fact that person was born and raised in Western Samoa strongly suggests, without anything further, that hisparents were not "temporarily residing outside of American" at the time of his birth.In re the Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

Fact that one is a U.S. national from American Samoa is not necessarily equivalent to being an "inhabitant" of American Samoa since the place where one lives may be different than the place of one's legal nationality.In re the Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

The physical presence requirement is excepted by A.S.C.A. § 1.0404(b) only by registering with the Territorial Registrar absences for attendance at an educational institution, service in the United States armed forces, medical treatment and recuperation, temporary traveling, or missionary work as a minister.In re Matai Title Patea, 25 A.S.R.2d 139.

 

A person who is not born "on American soil" is eligible for a matai title only if (1) he is born of parents who were inhabitants of American Samoa but temporarily residing outside American Samoa at the child's birth, and (2) as applicable to this case, he has resided in American Samoa for a continuous period of at least ten years prior to filing his claim to a title.A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b).In re Matai Title Patea, 25 A.S.R.2d 139.

 

Patea family does not come within the statutory small‑family exception.Affidavit stating that clan had fewer than 25 eligible members insufficient in light of contradictory testimony by affiant at trial that family had between 100 and 200 members.In re Matai Title Patea, 25 A.S.R.2d 139.

 

Matai‑title claimants and counter‑claimants/objectors are not held to different standards regarding the supporting petitions.In re Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 155.

 

Eligibility to be a candidate for a matai title is not an incident of one's nationality and therefore A.S.C.A. § 1.0403 does not abridge a constitutionally‑guaranteed privilege.In re Matai Title I`aulualo, 25 A.S.R.2d 155.

 

For a matai title claimant to qualify under A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b)(2), he still must show both that a parent was an inhabitant of American Samoa, and that the parent's residence outside of the territory was temporary.In Re Matai Title “I`aulualo” of the Village of Afono, 29 A.S.R.2d 128.

 

An inhabitant is one who resides actually and permanently in a given place, and has his domicile there.In Re Matai Title “I`aulualo” of the Village of Afono, 29 A.S.R.2d 128.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b) is not a prohibited bill of attainder or ex post facto law because it is not a criminal law.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

Age groupings have been consistently upheld for regulatory objectives such as voting, jury selection, military service, and receiving Social Security and other benefits.In the context of matai title eligibility, the distinction between minority and majority is a logical differentiation.In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

Eligibility to succeed to a vacant matai title is set forth in A.S.C.A. § 1.0403.Under § 1.0403(b), a person born on foreign soil is eligible to hold an American Samoa matai title only if: (1) that person was born of parents who were inhabitants of American Samoa, but were temporarily residing outside of American Samoa or engaged in foreign travel at the time of his birth; and (2) while later residing in American Samoa that person either (a) renounces, under oath, his allegiance to the foreign country of his birth, within one year after reaching age 18 years, or (b) has continuously resided in American Samoa for at least 10 years prior to claiming registration as a matai titleholder.To be eligible to succeed to a vacant matai title, each requirement of the A.S.C.A. § 1.0403(b) two-pronged test must be satisfied. In Re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele”, 29 A.S.R.2d 169.

 

A person is disqualified from registering a matai title when the person was born in Western Samoa of parents who then had permanent residential ties to that foreign country, despite the fact that the person’s mother was a U.S. National.In re Matai Title “Mulitauaopele” of the Village of Laulii, 30 A.S.R.2d 62.

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0404(a), a person is eligible to claim or object to the succession to a matai title if he has resided in American Samoa for one calendar year immediately preceding the date of objection.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

In a matai title case all candidates must first comply with the statutory requirements of A.S.C.A. §8 1.0401- .0414, which include the filing of a petition signed by at least 25 blood members of the title claimed.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

Because a fundamental feature of the customs, culture, and traditional Samoan family organization is that a Samoan family selects its matai, or titular head, resort to the imported procedural framework of the Matai Registration Statute, A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0101 et seq, is to be availed only where the traditional matai selection process has failed to select a new matai in the customary manner.In Re Matai Title Taliaaueafe, 3 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 1999).

 

Where a family meeting has not yet been called, it is premature for family members to file claims under the Matai Registration Statute, A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0101 et seq, with Territorial Registrar’s office. In Re Matai Title Taliaaueafe, 3 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 1999).

 

The registration process under the Matai Registration Statute, A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0101 et seq, should not supplant and displace the traditional matai selection process, and the registration process and the Court should be involved only when a family proves unable to reach agreement on a matai after the family has had a meaningful opportunity to thoroughly confront the issue. In Re Matai Title Taliaaueafe, 3 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 1999).

 

There is no matai title dispute for certification to the Land and Titles Division until the Territorial Registrar is first satisfied that a family meeting has been called and held for the purpose of selecting a successor matai according to the traditions of the family and that the family was not able to select a new titleholder. In Re Matai Title Taliaaueafe, 3 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 1999).

 

The premature filing of a claim is not grounds for the extreme action of disenfranchising an eligible heir (even assuming that the claimant had falsely declared that a family meeting had been held for the purpose of selecting a successor to the title in question and that he had been chosen accordingly). In Re Matai Title Taliaaueafe, 3 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 1999).

 

§ 6Statutory Qualifications

 

§ 6(1)—General Provisions

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Ioasa v. Aivao, 1 A.S.R. 567.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Elekana v. Sefe, 1 A.S.R. 573.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Letomia v. Sekoti, 1 A.S.R. 577.

 

Codification of regulations provides procedures and considerations for court in determining matai title holder.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Former rule that matai should be selected solely on basis of hereditary right has been abolished.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Code set forth considerations for court in determination of matai title holder.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Codification of Regulations sets forth considerations for court in determination of matai title holder.Sueuga v. Laisene, 2 A.S.R. 82.

 

Codification sets forth considerations for determination of matai title holder.Akeimo v. Mulu, 2 A.S.R. 89.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Tootoo v. Faaea, 2 A.S.R. 94.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Taufaasau v. Soloi, 2 A.S.R. 98.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Aano v. Sitau, 2 A.S.R. 107.

 

Former law that matai be determined on basis of hereditary right has been superceded by legislation stating four considerations for court’s determination in selection of title holder.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Codification of Regulations established eligibility requirements for matai title.(CAS 81.)Titi v. Suiava, 2 A.S.R. 160.

 

Codification of Regulations established procedures for determination of matai title holder.(CAS 79.)Titi v. Suiava, 2 A.S.R. 160.

 

Codification of Regulations provides procedure for selection of matai.(CAS 79.)Simaile v. Lafoa’i, 2 A.S.R. 170.

 

Court cannot overrule legislative requirement on eligibility of candidate for matai title.Hunkin v. Pio, 2 A.S.R. 233.

 

Code provides eligibility requirements for matai title holder.(CAS 926.)Hunkin v. Pio, 2 A.S.R. 233.

 

Code provides for considerations to be made by court in determination of matai title holder.(CAS 933.)Maea v. Alapeti, 2 A.S.R. 255.

 

Code sets forth considerations for court in determination of matai title holder.Fagafa v. Siuea, 2 A.S.R. 261.

 

Code sets forth requirements for eligibility to hold matai title.(CAS 926.)Faagata v. Taupo, 2 A.S.R. 271.

 

Code establishes eligibility requirements for matai title holders.(CAS 926.)Alalamua v. Young, 2 A.S.R. 391.

 

Code provides requirements for eligibility of candidate for title holder.(CAS 926.)Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Code provides for considerations to be made by court in determining matai title holder.Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Code provides eligibility requirements for holding of matai title.(CAS 926.)Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Code sets forth considerations to be made by court in determination of matai title holder.(CAS 933.)Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Code establishes requirements for registration as matai title holder.(CAS 926.)Stevens v. Tee, 2 A.S.R. 627.

 

Code prescribes qualifications for holding matai title.(CAS 926.)Siaosi v. Asoau, 3 A.S.R. 293.

 

Code prescribes law court must follow in determining matai title.(CAS 933.)Siaosi v. Asoau, 3 A.S.R. 293.

 

Code sets forth considerations for High Court in determination of matai title holder.(CAS 933.)Malaga v. Mase, 3 A.S.R. 518.

 

Code establishes qualifications and provides procedures for determination of matai title holders.(CAS 933, 926.)Tagoai v. Tuiafono, 4 A.S.R. 252.

 

Code prescribes qualifications which person must have to be eligible to succeed to matai title.(CAS 6.0101.)Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

Code prescribes law which court must follow in determining which one among opposing candidates shall be registered as holder of matai title.(CAS 6.0107.)Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

Code sets forth basic qualifications which person must have to be eligible to succeed to matai title.(CAS 6.0101.)Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Code sets forth considerations which shall guide court in determining which of opposing candidates shall be registered as holder of matai title.(CAS 6.0107.)Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Statute sets forth four considerations guiding court in determination of matai title holder.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Code establishes eligibility requirements for matai title holders (CAS 6.0101, 6.0107.)Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Statutory Provision (CAS 6.0104) setting forth requirements for matai title holder applies to every candidate for title—objectors as well as applicant.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Code prescribes qualifications of person to be eligible to succeed to matai title.(CAS 6.0101.)Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

Code provides four considerations which courts follow in determining who among opposing candidates shall be registered as hilder of matai title.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

In considering statutory criteria for matai titles, court should always be guided by overriding purpose of the statute, which is to preserve Samoan culture.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Ma'ae, 6 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Court should interpret statutes dealing with Samoan custom and matai titles so as to minimize the extent to which customary law is modified or overridden by the imported procedural framework.In re Matai Title Ma'ae, 6 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Family tradition empowering senior matai to designate holder of a lesser title within the family would, if proven, be relevant to determination by court of whether candidates had hereditary rights to title, family support "as customary in the family," and value of candidates to the family, village, and country.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Ma'ae, 6 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The matai-title statute does not give the court the power to retroactively apply the four statutory criteria to events that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The matai-title statute may not divest any person of a title which was registered before November 1, 1932.A.S.C.A. § 1.0413.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

A family's establishing a "new" matai title for itself was not illegal until 1969, when the matai title registry was closed.A.S.C.A. § 1.0401(b).In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The High Court will make findings of fact on the statutory criteria in awarding a matai title when the family had an opportunity to reach a consensus but failed to do so.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Atiumaletavai, 21 A.S.R.2d 88.

 

Although the High Court's matai-title decisions frequently include substantial comparative discussions of title candidates' qualifications under each of the four statutory criteria, the only legal requirement is a written decision containing findings of fact and conclusions of law on each of the four statutory criteria.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c); T.C.R.C.P. 52(a).In re Matai Title Atiumaletavai, 22 A.S.R.2d 94.

 

In a matai-title case, the court is guided by four statutory criteria: (1) best hereditary right; (2) clan support; (3) forcefulness, character and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs; and (4) value to family, village, and country.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c).In re Matai Title Paopaoailua, 24 A.S.R.2d 7.

 

Matai titles created after the matai-title registration process closed on January 1, 1969, are not legally recognizable. Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

While some families or matai may still practice the old, autocratic custom, which allows a matai to appoint his own successor, this custom must be viewed under the law as only a relic from a bygone era.In re the Matai Title Iu, 25 A.S.R.2d 127.

 

Custom in conflict with law must give way.A.S.C.A. § 1.0202; In Re the Matai Title Iu, 25 A.S.R.2d 127.

 

The language of A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(d) is clear--the trial court shall issue a decision that covers each factor enumerated in A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c).The word "shall" has traditionally been interpreted as a mandatory direction, inconsistent with the idea of discretion.In reMatai Title Faumuina, 26 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

Absent any clearly expressed legislative intention to the contrary, the term "shall" is significantly commanding.In reMatai Title Faumuina, 26 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

A failure to follow the clear meaning of A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(d) results in prejudice to all involved.The legislature has required that the judiciary issue written findings of fact and conclusions of law.The trial court has no discretion to ignore that legislative mandate.In reMatai Title Faumuina, 26 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

There is nothing in law or custom to prevent reunification of a split matai title; however, reunification is something best left to the evolutionary process of Samoan custom, as opposed to yet another conflicting judicial pronouncement on the issue of split/joint matai titles.Fanene v. Fanene, 26 A.S.R.2d 8.

 

The matai title Misaalefua is title of paramount stature in the territory.In re Matai Title Misaalefua, 28 A.S.R.2d 106.

 

There are four criteria to be considered when deciding a matai title: 1) best hereditary right; 2) wish of majority or plurality of the family clans; 3) forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan custom; and 4) value of candidate to family, village and country.Lealai v. Aoelua, 1 A.S.R.3d 12 (App. Div. 1997).

 

The court’s evaluation of the four criteria set forth in A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c) is decisive in awarding matai titles in contested registration actions.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c) provides that in a matai title dispute, the criteria to be considered are the best hereditary right; clan support; forcefulness, character and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs; and value to family, village, and country.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Although some matai title controversies have been resolved in favor of the candidate possessing the higher degree of formal education or the greatest disposable income or personal wealth, such cases cannot be interpreted to invariably require the land and titles division to hold that such attributes always outweigh the accomplishments of other candidates, and to establish such broad rules of law would at once frustrate the broad grant of discretion given by the Legislature to the trial court in matai title cases and unduly encroach upon the specific, constitutional powers of the Legislature to preserve and protect the Samoan way of life.Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

To determine successor to matai title “Letuli” of Village of Iliili, Court evaluated qualifications of four candidates according to mandated criteria in statutory order of priority: (a) best hereditary right; (b) wish of majority or plurality of family clans; (c) forcefulness, character, and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs; and (d) value to the family, village and country.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 5 A.S.R.3d 215 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Court held that Olo U. Misilagi Letuli should be registered as Letuli of Village of Iliili as he prevailed over other candidates on criterion of personal characteristics and knowledge of Samoan customs, and value of prospective service, while equally entitled by hereditary right along with two other candidates.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 5 A.S.R.3d 215 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Under A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(3), evaluation and assessment of candidates is necessarily comparative exercise, varying in emphasis from case to case.Court is statutorily directed to examine personal traits that, in part, appeal to personal observation.However, leadership ability, honesty, education, public service, involvement in church and village affairs, and previous experience as matai are factors which aid in meeting this criterion.In re Matai Title “Mauga", 5 A.S.R.3d 270 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

In matai title dispute, A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c) provides that criteria to be considered are best hereditary right; clan support; forcefulness, character and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs; and value to family, village, and country.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

As in all matai title succession disputes, court is mandated to follow the four criteria set out in A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c): (1) best hereditary right; (2) clan support; (3) forcefulness, character and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs; and (4) value to family, village, and country.In re Matai Title “Puailoa,” 7 A.S.R.3d 228 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

In the trial of matai title cases, A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c) requires the court to be guided by best hereditary right, wish of the clan, forcefulness of character, and value to the family.In re Matai Title “Sialega,” 7 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

§ 6(2)—Best Hereditary Right

 

While court adheres to rule of hereditary right in selection of matai title holder, when two or more candidates have equal rights, court will inquire into general fitness of candidate for title.Malama v. Fepuleai, 1 A.S.R. 560.

 

Candidate with four times as much family blood as opponent prevails on issue of hereditary right in determination of matai.Sueuga v. Laisene, 2 A.S.R. 82.

 

Prior decision has established that candidate for matai is descendant of family.Titi v. Suiava, 2 A.S.R. 160.

 

“Hereditary right” as defined in Sec. 933 of Code means right based on blood relationship and not based on marriage to blood descendant or descent from adopted child.Gagamoe v. Toti, 2 A.S.R. 337.

 

Although adopted child of matai has legal relation of child to parent, including “rights of inheritance from each other,” he does not have hereditary right to title since title belongs to family and not matai.Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Hereditary right to matai title is based on blood and does not include marriage or adoption.Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Under Samoan custom, matai will not be selected unless he has some hereditary right to title.Malaeola v. Nu’u, 2 A.S.R. 549.

 

Right to claim matai title once held by ancestor is sacred.In re Matai Title Salave’a, 4 A.S.R. 44.

 

Prior holder of matai title does not have 100% hereditary right to title by virtue of this fact alone.Ailua Maga v. Ativalu Tago, 1955, Civil, insofar as it holds to the contrary, is overruled.In re Matai Title Alalamua, 4 A.S.R. 93.

 

Blood sons of former matai prevail equally over grandson on issue of hereditary right in determination of matai title holder.Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

Candidate for matai title with 1/8 blood of previous title holder prevails over candidate with 1/32 blood on issue of hereditary right.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Blood daughter prevails over grandson on issue of hereditary right to matai title under Samoan custom.(CAS 6.0107.)Tuaolo v. Tutogi, 4 A.S.R. 488.

 

Person who is grandson of former title holder prevails over person who is great-grandson on issue of hereditary right.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Son of former matai title holder prevails over great-grandson in priority consideration of hereditary right for courts in determining matai title holder because son has greater blood relationship.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

A candidate for a matai title, who previously held that title, but was removed by petition of family, has a 100% hereditary right to that title.Fesili v. Ativalu, 4 A.S.R. 688.

 

Applicant for matai title has no hereditary right to title because his uncle once held title.Reed v. Polone, 4 A.S.R. 726.

 

The “hereditary right” in a matai case is to be traced back to the original title holder.A “clan” is created by each of the offspring of the original titleholder who marries and has children.In re Matai Title “Sotoa,” 2 A.S.R.2d 15 (Land & Titles Div. 1984).

 

Where there was insufficient evidence to resolve dispute among candidates for matai title about the identity of the original titleholder, and where recent trial court opinion announcing a rule that ancestry of matai title candidates should be traced to the original titleholder had been criticized in subsequent opinions of appellate court, the trial court in a later case would attempt to calculate each candidate's ancestry both to the nearest titleholder and to the titleholder who was the nearest common ancestor of the candidates.In re Matai Title Fano, 4 A.S.R.2d 148.

 

Rule of heredity that arose in previous trial court decision was not binding precedent when rule resulted from "judicial notice" of Samoan custom that ignored stark variation among different families' practices, rule was stipulated by the parties rather than briefed, argued, and decided, and the rule had been criticized in subsequent opinions of the appellate court.In re Matai Title Tauaifaiva, 5 A.S.R.2d 13 (Land & Titles Div. 1987).

 

When different sides of a family reasonably differ on the identity of the original titleholder, court would assess hereditary entitlement of matai title contestants according to each party's closest proven relation to a previous titleholder.A.S.C.A § 1.0409(c).In re Matai Title Tauaifaiva, 5 A.S.R.2d 13 (Land & Titles Div. 1987).

 

When neither claimant to a contested matai title sustained his burden of proving superior hereditary entitlement, trial court's determination that both were related to the title by heritage but that neither prevailed on that issue was not an abrogation of the court's duty to make "findings."In re Matai Title Tauaisafune, 6 A.S.R.2d 59.

 

Since a matai title ordinarily has many successive holders, evidence concerning a person known by a particular matai name in 1912 should not be assumed to apply to a person who was called by the same name by a witness testifying in 1987.Satele v. Uiagalelei, 8 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

A reference to one person as the "sister" of another is not contradicted by evidence that they did not have identical ancestors, since in Samoan custom the terms "brother" and "sister" frequently refer to relatives of the same generation whether or not they are born of the same mother and father.Satele v. Uiagalelei, 8 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

Candidate for a matai title who best satisfied the statutory criterion of hereditary right to the title did so by showing the shortest route of descent from a past title holder, even though such descent was via an adopted side of the family.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c).In re Matai Title Iuli, 14 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

The "Sotoa Rule," whereby the blood relationship of matai candidates is calculated not to the nearest titleholder in a candidate's genealogy but to the original titleholder, while criticized and not often used, may nevertheless be appropriate in certain cases.In re Matai Title Tuiteleleapaga, 15 A.S.R.2d 90.

 

A blood right to a matai title is based on direct descent from the title he claims; no decisions of this Court support a blood right to a matai title solely based on "blood descent" from the titleholder's sister, nor is such consistent with any of the Court's formulae employed to determine "hereditary right." A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(1).In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 16 A.S.R.2d 63.

 

In construing the customary and statutory requirement of "hereditary right" to matai titles, courts have generally employed two formulas to calculate such right: direct descent from the original title holder and direct descent from the nearest title holder.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

A statement regarding "hereditary right" in matai-title cases involving one, unrelated branch of a family did not have res judicata effect as to the other branch of the family when the question of the "hereditary right" of the latter was not before the Court and no member of the latter family was a party to the those cases.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Adoption itself does not confer a hereditary right to a matai title; in tracing a candidate's ancestry to the nearest title holder, the formula applied in the vast majority of cases, only blood relationships count.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The statutory "best hereditary right" criterion does not require the court to extinguish a family line whenever it appears that a matai obtained his title, prior to the enactment of the statute, for a reason other that blood descent.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Although the exception, ancient Samoan traditions abound with stories of matai who obtained their titles for reasons other than blood descent from a previous title holder, such as "igagato" (conferral as a reward) and "matu`upalapala" ("commission" to avoid the extinction of the line).In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Since the statutory adoption of the "hereditary right" criterion, the court is not free to award a disputed matai title to a person who is not descended from a previous titleholder. A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The "Sotoa rule" for determining the best hereditary right of matai candidates may sometimes be appropriate for clans which have not held the title for several generations but whose members, according to the tradition in many families, remain entitled to a fair chance at each new vacancy and perhaps even to some affirmative credit on the theory that each clan should have its turn at the title.In re Matai Title Laie, 18 A.S.R.2d 35.

 

For the limited purpose of calculating a matai candidate's blood relationship to a title, relation to a former titleholder who never registered the title will be accepted under the limited conditions where:1)there was no indication that the titleholder was not recognized by the entire family; 2) the titleholder held the title for only three or four years; 3) the idea of title registration was a fairly new practice at the time (1920's or 1930's); 4) transportation between Tutuila (where registration was required to be filed) and Manu`a (where the title was located) was difficult and irregular; and 5) there was no indication of any legal obstacle to his registration of the title.In re Matai Title Laie, 18 A.S.R.2d 35.

 

A sister of the last titleholder was a generation ahead of his daughter and so prevailed on the hereditary-right criterion under the Sotoa rule.In re Matai Title Fonoti, 21 A.S.R.2d 113.

 

Determining best hereditary right is traditionally guided by the percentage of matai-title candidates' blood relationship to a former titleholder, though in unusual cases it may be appropriate to calculate blood relationships from the original titleholder or the nearest common ancestor.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(1).Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

This factual determination of "Best Hereditary Right" is traditionally guided by the percentage of the candidates' blood relationship to a former holder of the matai title.In re Matai Title Leano, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

In circumstances in which family history is by and large harmonious, the "Sotoa rule" is the less arbitrary method of assessing hereditary entitlement.In re Matai Title Lolo, 25 A.S.R.2d 175.

 

The traditional rule determines hereditary rights based on a candidate's direct relationship to his closest ancestor holding the title.In re the Matai Title Tuaolo, 27 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

The "Sotoa rule" is inappropriate where the candidatesdo not agree on the identity of the original titleholder or any common ancestor.In re Matai Title Tuaolo, 28 A.S.R.2d 137.

 

The “Sotoa Rule” determines best hereditary right based upon the blood relationship of the candidates to the original titleholder.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

The “Sotoa Rule” should not always be used, but is appropriate where the family traditionally traces the blood relationship back to the original titleholder, where clans of the family have not held the title for several generations, or where the family history is largely harmonious.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

In case where family history was unanimous as to the original titleholder, use of the “Sotoa Rule” was less arbitrary than other methods and was appropriate.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

There is no bright line rule regarding de minimus blood relationships.A 1/128 blood relationship is not de minimus when the “Sotoa Rule” is used.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Where candidates for a matai title disagree over the identities of the original titleholder and most of the subsequent titleholders, the court follows the traditional rule for determining the best hereditary right by examining each candidate’s closest relationship to a previous titleholder.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Where all candidates for a matai title have a harmonious family history, the court applies the Sotoa rule in calculating the best hereditary right and looks to the earliest generation descendant.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Where candidates were at odds on family history and unable to agree on identity and lineage or former titleholders, Court properly relied on traditional rule, looking to the candidates’ relationships to the previous titleholder.In Re Matai Title Tagoilelagi, 3 A.S.R.3d 66 (App. Div. 1999).

 

The traditional rule for judicial determination of hereditary rights mathematically measures candidates’ blood connection to a former titleholder.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 284 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

In determining best hereditary right, the “Sotoa rule” looks at the number of generations candidates are removed from the original holder, or at least from a common ancestral holder, of the title.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 284. (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

A common, customary way of identifying clans among Samoan families is by looking at the children of the original titleholder.In re Matai Title “Galea`i”, 4 A.S.R.3d 284 (Land & Titles Div. 2000).

 

Each candidate is blood member of Letuli family and is therefore qualified under hereditary right criteria to hold “Letuli” title. Nonetheless, to compare relative strength of candidates’ blood connection to title at issue, Court has traditionally applied judicial rule that distance of each candidate’s relationship is measured from closest preceding titleholder in candidate’s lineage.In re Matai Title “Letuli”, 5 A.S.R.3d 215 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

In matai title dispute cases, Sotoa rule (candidate’s blood relationship determined by reference to relationship to original titleholder, not by descent to nearest past titleholder) is not of general application, particularly when family genealogical understanding is contentious and when family history suggests contrary tradition and understanding of entitlement.In re Matai Title “Mauga", 5 A.S.R.3d 270 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Using traditional formula, hereditary entitlement is determined by percentage of candidate’s blood relationship to former titleholder, as opposed to original titleholder.In re Matai Title “Mauga", 5 A.S.R.3d 270 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Applying traditional formula for evaluating and measuring heredity, candidate showing shortest descent path to past titleholder prevails.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

On issue of first criterion (best hereditary right), where court received conflicting testimony as to whether candidate was actually related by blood to previous title holder, court resolved dispute in favor of candidate noting that she was raised as a family member, grew up in family’s village, lived on family’s property, and participated in family affairs in a manner consistent with family entitlement.In re Matai Title “Ava,” 7 A.S.R.3d 211 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

Court has resorted to one of two formulas to calculate the statutory and customary requirement of “hereditary right”: (1) direct descent from the original titleholder which may be used when family history is largely harmonius; and (2) direct descent from the nearest titleholder, which has been used by the vast majority of cases.In re Matai Title “Puailoa,” 7 A.S.R.3d 228 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

Hereditary right, as calculated according to the traditional method, calculates degrees of relationship to the title through the shortest descent route to a past titleholder. In re Matai Title “Sialega,” 7 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

The Sotoa rule” which measures entitlement by evaluating descent from the original titleholder, but this rule is only workable under circumstances where family history is by and large harmonious.In re Matai Title “Sialega,” 7 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

§ 6(3)—Clan Support

 

In determining which candidate family wishes to assume matai title, Court will look not only to which candidate has the most names on petition but also to which candidate has been selected at family meetings.Ioasa v. Aivao, 1 A.S.R. 567.

 

While total number of names on petition is important for purposes of evidencing which matai candidate has wish of family, Court also places significance on number of petitioners who actually live in village to which matai name belongs.Ioasa v. Aivao, 1 A.S.R. 567.

 

In determining which candidate family wishes to assume matai title, court will look not only to see which candidate has the most names on petition but also to which candidate has been selected at family meetings.Elekana v. Sefe, 1 A.S.R. 573.

 

Children under eight years old who signed petition expressing preference for candidate for matai title should be discounted.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Members of family, who allegedly signed petition expressing preference for candidate for matai title but who are residing in Hawaii and concerning whom there is no proof that signatures were authorized, must be discounted.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Child under ten does not have education, experience and mental development to express preference for matai on petition.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Children eight years of age or under who signed petition expressing preference for candidate for matai title should be discounted.Aano v. Sitau, 2 A.S.R. 107.

 

Fact that candidate has support of majority of family in bid for title is not alone sufficient as candidate must meet other requirements of the law.Utu v. Tu’itu’I, 2 A.S.R. 184.

 

Code requirement that applicant, to be eligible for title, must be “chosen by his family for the title” requires that applicant be a direct blood descendant of the family who holds the title sought.Utu v. Tu’itu’I, 2 A.S.R. 184.

 

Child of fourteen is considered of sufficient age to sign petition selecting candidate for matai.Maea v. Alapeti, 2 A.S.R. 255.

 

Signers of matai petition must be over fourteen years of age.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

“Wish of majority or plurality of family” means just that, and not “wish of majority or plurality of family residing in village to which title is attached.”Eneliko v. Mano, 2 A.S.R. 393.

 

Signatures on petition for matai title holder which represent persons not living in Samoa and are without authorization cannot be considered.Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Where Samoan family selects matai, it frequently passes title from branch to branch as matter of fairness and to promote harmony in family.Saufea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Where names on petition for matai title are also on another petition for another candidate, names will not be counted for either candidate.Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Where evidence indicates that signatures on petition for selection of matai title holder are in same handwriting, such signatures should not be counted.Sauafea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

Persons related to man who holds matai title, but not related to title nor rendering service to the title, may not be counted in determining wish of family.Gi v. Maaele, 2 A.S.R. 506.

 

Members of spouse’s clan are not members of family for purposes of voting for matai.Mea v. Talio, 2 A.S.R. 528.

 

Claim of withdrawing candidate for matai title that his supporters favored another candidate is not satisfactory proof thereof.Siaosi v. Asoau, 3 A.S.R. 293.

 

Contract among family members to alternate matais among various branches of family would not be binding on future generations since title belongs to all of family and not any branch tereof.Tiumalu v. Tiumalu, 3 A.S.R. 502.

 

Matai title holder need not be blood member of family of which he is matai, but those members of family who indicate their wish must be blood members, and this means that preferences of persons married into family may not be considered by court in determination of which candidate has the majority or plurality of family support.Malaga v. Mase, 3 A.S.R. 518.

 

Family member may only represent his clan at family meeting to select matai.In re Matai Title Tupua, 4 A.S.R. 53.

 

All members of Samoan family enjoy equal rights and privileges under clan system—one clan cannot be “favored” over others in selecting matai.R.C.A.S. 6.0107.In re Matai Title Faiivae, 4 A.S.R. 71.

 

Although R.C.A.S. 6.0104 requires twenty-five (25) family members to sign petition supporting matai title claim, this is not mandatory if affidavit discloses family has less than twenty-five (25) qualified members.R.C.A.S. 6.0104.In re Matai Title Fagaima, 4 A.S.R. 83.

 

Actual notice of matai title claim to two authentic clans of family and selection of claimant at meetings attended by two clans meets criteria of 1 A.S.C. 751(3) that claimant be selected by family.In re Matai Title Lea’eno, 4 A.S.R. 152.

 

1 A.S.C. 753 requires that 25 family members, listing names and ages, support matai title application.If list submitted to court meets statutory criteria, it is harmless error that list sent to objector omits ages of signatories.In re Matai Title Lea’eno, 4 A.S.R. 152.

 

Where there are number of instances where both husband and wife sign petition favoring matai candidate, court will consider it probable that some signers are not blood members of family since under Samoan custom. Person marries outside his clan, and husband and wife should be from different families.Tagoai v. Tuiafono, 4 A.S.R. 252.

 

Clan is a group of people who are descended from a common ancestor.Filipo v. Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 313.

 

Samoan custom appears to favor defining clan as all descendants of each of children of first title holder rather than all descendants of each and every title holder.Filipo v. Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 313.

 

When it becomes necessary, court will give definite interpretation to word “clan” as used in statute until such time as legislature clarifies definition.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Legislature has not defined “clan” as used in consideration of wish of majority of clans in determination of matai title holder.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Court will discount of who among candidates for matai title is favored by majority of clans where there is dispute as to definition of clans; where two parties claim there is only one clan; and where court can arrive at definite selection without necessity of defining “clan.”Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Where majority of family favor objector as title holder, and only applicant and her children prefer applicant, objector prevails on issue of wish of majority of family in determination of matai under Samoan custom.(CAS 6.0107.)Tuaolo v. Tutogi, 4 A.S.R. 488.

 

Under Samoan custom, individual unanimously selected by family to hold matai title is candidate for title.Tuaolo v. Tutogi, 4 A.S.R. 488.

 

Where there is much contradictory testimony as to wish of majority of clans in family as to who should be matai title holder, court may find candidates rank equally on this issue.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Statutory requirement (CAS 6.0107) that Court consider “wish of the majority or plurality of those clans of the family as customary in that family” means that matai candidate must have full support of at least two out of three clans in three clan family.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

If no candidate has support of majority or plurality of clans in family, Court will disregard this issue in choosing matai.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Where court finds clans have selected one candidate as matai title holder, he prevails over opponents with respect to wish of majority of clans.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

If neither candidate for matai title has support of majority or plurality of clans, Court will rank candidates equally and disregard this issue in making decision.Fesili v. Ativalu, 4 A.S.R. 688.

 

If family chooses one applicant for matai title and presents kava cup to symbolize selection, and only other candidate admits family failed to choose him, former prevails on issue of family preference.Reed v. Polone, 4 A.S.R. 726.

 

In some villages, the bearer of ava cup for the village council is recognized as a matai.Moea`i v. Te`o, 9 A.S.R.2d 107.

 

Although designation by a living matai of his successor has its place in the customs of Samoa, it has always been understood that the whole family has the right to decide whether to accept the designee or to choose someone else.In re Matai Title Tauala, 14 A.S.R.2d 83.

 

Difficulty of assessing family or clan support for candidates for a matai title is compounded by the fact that Samoan families traditionally make decisions not by pure majoritarian democracy but by consensus.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Tauala, 14 A.S.R.2d 83.

 

Where one of the competing candidates has illegally undergone traditional ceremonies which made him the matai in the eyes of many family members, some of these members might regard themselves as bound to support him whether or not they believe he is or will be a good matai; it is thus practically impossible to make a fair and accurate comparison of his support with that of a candidate who has not illegally seized such a strategic advantage.A.S.C.A. §1.0409.In re Matai Title Tauala, 14 A.S.R.2d 83.

 

No candidate for a matai title best satisfied the statutory criterion of the support of the clans where the candidates disagreed on the identities of the original and subsequent titleholders and family meetings considering the candidates ended inconclusively.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c). In re Matai Title Iuli, 14 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

The Court must make its assessment of family support for a matai candidate as of the time of trial.In re Matai Title Tauala, 15 A.S.R.2d 65.

 

When two branches of a family are not related to each other by blood, it would be contrary to Samoan custom for them to meet together as one family to choose a single title holder with pule over both families' lands and internal affairs.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 16 A.S.R.2d 63.

 

Neither law nor Samoan custom forbids the continued existence of two unrelated families, which came into being after the original line of direct descendants from the first titleholder died out.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

Although having the same surname, families which are unrelated by blood and own separate lands do not have the option of participating in affairs of the other families or contending for their matai titles.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 17 A.S.R.2d 75.

 

The number of individual supporters among a family's clans does not establish a majority or plurality of clan support for a matai-title candidate but is only one factor indicating support in those clans.In re Matai Title Atiumaletavai, 22 A.S.R.2d 94.

 

Clan support for matai-title candidates is traditionally measured by consensus and not by a mere numerical majority.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(2).Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

Clan support for a matai title can not be evaluated by counting heads and is traditionally measured by consensus.In re Matai Title Leano, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

Presentation of the kava cup by family members, which included all but two of the claimants who sought registration of the title, is significantly indicative of family support favoring presentee.In re Matai Title Lolo, 25 A.S.R.2d 175.

 

Clans customarily consist of the lineal descendants of the original titleholder's children and take each such child's name.In re the Matai Title Tuaolo, 27 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

There are four customary clans of the Misaalefua family, namely:Agafala, Vaepala, Tuimalie, and Faliu.In re Matai Title Misaalefua, 28 A.S.R.2d 106.

 

A tally of signatures does not provide proof of clan support for a matai candidate.In re Matai Title Misaalefua, 28 A.S.R.2d 106.

 

Trial Court’s determination that there was no majority support for any one candidate was not clearly erroneous where there was sufficient evidence to support such conclusion.Misaalefua v. Hudson, 1 A.S.R.3d 23 (App. Div. 1997).

 

Trial court should follow the traditional rule, and determine clans based upon the children of the original title holder.Tuaolo v. Fruean, 1 A.S.R.3d33 (App. Div. 1997).

 

The results of family meetings held to deliberate on and select the successor to a matai Tagoilelagi title are far more important to the clan wish issue under A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(C)(2) than the number and names of the clans.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Where a matai title dispute involves multiple family clans, the support of the majority or plurality of the clans may be considered in evaluating the family support of a candidate.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Where claimants’ candidacies in a matai title dispute are not presented to the assembled family for consideration, they can lay no claims to family support, but where a claimant’s candidacy is presented to the family and is unanimously endorsed by family consensus, such candidate will prevail on the issue of clan support.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Where trial court determined that matai candidate prevailed on the “support of the majority or plurality of the family’s claims” without addressing the number and identity of the clans in existence, it committed clear error as it was required to determine the “number, identity, and preference of the clans” pursuant to A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(d).In Re Matai Title Tagoilelagi, 3 A.S.R.3d 66 (App. Div. 1999).

 

To determine clan support, the court does not look to numerical majorities but traditional rules of consensus.In Re Matai Title Tagoilelagi, 3 A.S.R.3d 66 (App. Div. 1999).

 

Even if there is but one clan in the family, the Court will still not consider majority opinion.In Re Matai Title Tagoilelagi, 3 A.S.R.3d 66 (App. Div. 1999).

 

If there is no consensus around one candidate, the court should disregard the clan support criterion.In Re Matai Title Tagoilelagi, 3 A.S.R.3d 66 (App. Div. 1999).

 

The concept of “clans” is not defined in the statutes governing matai titles.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, A.S.C.A. § 1.0404(c)(2).5 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Clan identity must be determined by the particular family’s current traditions.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 5 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

Samoan customs are fluid, varying from family to family, and evolving from time to time within each family.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 5 A.S.R.3d 225 (Land & Titles Div. 2001).

 

When claim to family support was based on family meetings that were sub-family gatherings, not meetings of whole family, neither candidate enjoyed total support of family’s two clans.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

For purposes of determining the clan’s wishes, a “clan” is a group of people descendant from a common ancestor.In re Matai Title “Sialega,” 7 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

§ 6(4)—Forcefulness, Character & Personality, Knowledge of Customs

 

Court takes judicial notice of reputation of candidates for high names as shown by their acts and records.Malama v. Fepuleai, 1 A.S.R. 560.

 

Age is an important consideration in determining which matai candidate is better qualified from standpoint of character and forcefulness.Ioasa v. Aivao, 1 A.S.R. 567.

 

Cutting copra, collecting tapa cloths for sale and experience in building houses are items tending to show forcefulness, character and personality by way of industry.Elekana v. Sefe, 1 A.S.R. 573.

 

Candidate with superior education has greater leadership capacity and thus better qualified on grounds of character, forcefulness and personality.Elekana v. Sefe, 1 A.S.R. 573.

 

Fact person had difficulties when Samoa was first ceded to United States should not be judged by standards of Western Civilization in consideration of character of candidate for matai title.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Matai who does not pay taxes on time and has to be brought in court is not setting right example for other taxpayers in family.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Court will consider whether any candidate has been convicted of a crime in determining prevailing candidate with regard to character, forcefulness, personality and leadership.Tootoo v. Faaea, 2 A.S.R. 94.

 

Candidate who has lived more years is a more experienced man and for this reason may prevail on the issue of forcefulness, character, personality and leadership.Taufaasau v. Soloi, 2 A.S.R. 98.

 

Candidate who lives with family is more familiar with family needs and members and is thus better qualified to assume leadership of family.Aano v. Sitau, 2 A.S.R. 107.

 

Candidate who has committed crime and has troublesome character cannot command respect of family and consequently his capacity for leadership will be limited.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate who has greatest income is in better position financially to assist family in times of difficulty or disaster and therefore more able to provide family leadership.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate whose family support comes from members who do not live in village to which name belongs and who does not live in such village and who is unfamiliar with family affairs is not in good position to assume leadership of family.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

From leadership standpoint, candidate in prime of life and good health is preferable to older candidate whose health is poor.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

“Character” of applicant for matai title means character at time of hearing and not character hoped for but by no means assured at some indefinite future time.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Candidate with superior practical experience may prevail over younger candidate with greater formal education.Atoa v. Meredith, 3 A.S.R. 159.

 

Character, forcefulness, personality, knowledge of Samoan customs, demeanor and happy personality make matai candidate more forceful with family than dour personality and is thus preferable.Scanlan v. Tuiasosopo, 4 A.S.R. 156.

 

Matai title applicant who on witness stand had chief in audience signal answers to him showed weakness and lack of character.Filipo v. Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 313.

 

In determining which candidate for matai title has greatest forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan custom, court will consider demeanor, personality, presence of mind, clarity, speed and correctness with which answers are given, self-confidence, and other qualities reflected from speech and behavior of candidate.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Knowledge of English, education, kind of employment and responsibility, criminal record and familiarity with Samoan customs are considerations for court in determining matai title holder.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Observation of personality in court of candidate for matai title holder is method of determining forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan customs.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

In choosing matai candidate, Court will consider under third and fourth issues of CAS 6.0107: forcefulness, character, personality, knowledge of Samoan customs, value to family, village and country, personal demeanor, presence of mind, clarity, speed and correctness of answers, candidness, ability to withstand cross-examination, education, self-confidence, speech and behavior.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Hearing testimony on character and background and observing personalities in court room enables court to select who of competing candidates for matai title holder has greatest forcefulness, personality and knowledge of Samona customs.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

Candidate for matai title who lied under oath about his convictions by military tribunals, and who had deliberately violated numerous court orders, would not prevail on the statutory criterion of forcefulness, character, personality, and knowledge of Samoan custom.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Tauala, 14 A.S.R.2d 83.

 

Candidate for a matai title who best satisfied the statutory criterion of forcefulness, character, personality, and knowledge of Samoan custom did so based on his longterm experience as a comparably ranked titleholder and administrator, which familiarized him with Samoan custom and enhanced his administrative and leadership skills and his ability to fulfill the responsibilities and duties of the title.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c).In re Matai Title Iuli, 14 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

Regarding the criterion of the forcefulness, character, and personality of a matai-title candidate and his knowledge of Samoan customs, factors considered include leadership ability, honesty, education, public service, involvement in church and village affairs, and previous experience as a matai.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(3).Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

Leadership ability, honesty, education, public service, involvement in church and village affairs, and previous experience as a matai are some of the factors which aid in meeting the criterion of "Forcefulness, Character, and Personality; Knowledge of Samoan Customs."In re Matai Title Leaeno, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

Suchqualities as "demeanor, personality, presence of mind, the clarity speed and correctness with which the answers were given, the self-confidence and other qualities reflected from speech and behavior," which go towards the issue of forcefulness and personality.In re Matai Title Te’o, 25 A.S.R.2d 101.

 

Poor health and advanced age weigh against a candidate on the consideration of forcefulness and personality.In re Matai Title Te`o, 26 A.S.R.2d 101.

 

Age is a factor to consider in determining knowledge of Samoan customs but is no guarantee of supremacy.In re Matai Title Tualolo, 28 A.S.R.2d 137.

 

In evaluating forcefulness, character and personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs in a matai title dispute, the court will consider a candidate’s age, work history, prominence in the community, personality, leadership ability, and health.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

That a paramount chief breaks the law by bestowing an unregistered matai title within his family does not legally excuse the person using that prohibited title from the application of A.S.C.A. § 1.0414 which makes certain conduct in the use of such a title a misdemeanor. Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

A prior criminal conviction, especially an infamous one or one involving moral turpitude, would likely prove fatal to a candidate’s favorable assessment as to character, but prior statutes which automatically disqualified certain convicted felons from registering matai titles have been repealed and not reenacted, and this statutory history must be construed as reflecting the Legislature’s intent to allow the panel of associate judges in matai title cases broad discretion to weigh all attributes—both positive and negative--in evaluating each candidate’s character. Saunoa v. Suafa’i, 3 A.S.R.3d 3 (App. Div. 1999).

 

Where matai candidate received favorable decision from family, but sought reconciliation with other candidate before offering title for registration, such actions illustrated conciliatory character of candidate and personal trait valuable under third prong of statutory test.In re Matai Title “Utofili”, 6 A.S.R.3d 347 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

Court may look to demeanor; personality; presence of mind; the clarity, speed and correctness with which answers were given; and self-confidence and other qualities reflected from speech and behavior in assessing personal attributes.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

When evaluating forcefulness of character, court compares personal attributes and achievements demonstrating these attributes, in part, on personal observation of each candidate while on the witness stand.In re Matai Title “Puailoa,” 7 A.S.R.3d 228 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

When evaluating forcefulness of character, the court can look to personal demeanor, presence of mind, the clarity, speed, and correctness with which answers were given, candidness, the ability to stand up to rigorous cross-examination, the education, the self-confidence, and other qualities which are reflected from the speech and behavior of the candidates, matters which can be assessed only from the personal observation of each individual candidate.At the same time, the court will also look to objective indices such as leadership ability, honesty, education, public service, and involvement in church and village affairs.In re Matai Title “Sialega,” 7 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

Where candidate demonstrated humility, maturity, thoughtfulness and respect for the family, and did not pursue his own personal ambitions or employ maneuvering, tactics, or strategy to attain matai title, but rather concentrated on advancing the family’s perceived desires, candidate was most deserving with regard to the character and personality aspects of the third criterion.In re Matai Title “Le’i,” 7 A.S.R.3d 244 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

§ 6(5)—Value to Family, Village and Country

 

Candidate for matai who spends half of time in village probably is better acquainted with members of family, their affairs and their needs than candidate who rarely visits village.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Court considers industry in making copra and exporting Samoan curios in consideration of value to government in determination of matai title holder.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Candidate for title who lives in village of family is more familiar with needs and affairs of family members than candidate who has never lived in village.Sueuga v. Laisene, 2 A.S.R. 82.

 

In consideration of value of matai to government, court looks for ability to handle family affairs.Sueuga v. Laisene, 2 A.S.R. 82.

 

Candidate who produces more wealth and possesses special skills such as carpentry is a good matai for a large family and therefore an asset to the Government.Tootoo v. Faaea, 2 A.S.R. 94.

 

A more experienced candidate is better qualified to handle family affairs and the better a matai handles family affairs, the more valuable he is to the Government.Taufaasau v. Soloi, 2 A.S.R. 98.

 

Candidate who lives with family is more familiar with family needs and members and is thus better qualified to assume leadership of family.Aano v. Sitau, 2 A.S.R. 107.

 

Matai who lives with family is able to see that family plantations are kept up and that family members live in peace and is thus more valuable to the Government.Aano v. Sitau, 2 A.S.R. 107.

 

Fact that candidate wears European clothing while working does not count against him in selection of matai.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate who has support of most family members is more able to unite family and prevent dissension and thus is more valuable to family and Government.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate who speaks English is more valuable to Government for purposes of Government dealings with family.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate who brings in most money from sources outside Samoa is more valuable to Government.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Candidate skilled in trade is more valuable to Government.Tuinei v. Ieliko, 2 A.S.R. 117.

 

Consideration by court as to which candidate for matai title is of greatest value to government includes his ability to handle affairs of family, approval of family as determined by number petitioning for matai, quality of goods produced by him, and lack of criminal record.Maea v. Alapeti, 2 A.S.R. 255.

 

Matai who lives away from family cannot look after family affairs as well as if he lived with family, and this is important consideration in determining which candidate has greatest capacity for leadership.Fagafa v. Siuea, 2 A.S.R. 261.

 

Value of matai to Government may be measured to considerable extent by quantity of goods produced by him.Fagafa v. Siuea, 2 A.S.R. 261.

 

Candidate for matai title who is of most value to Government is one who will be able to weld family into peaceable and happy unit, who is good leader, who is respected by members of family, and who has good character.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Matai title candidate who works for Government in responsible position is of more value to Government than candidate who works for trader in responsible position.Aigamaua v. Malama, 3 A.S.R. 414.

 

In determination of value of candidate to government, court will consider Samoan custom of alternating matais among branches of family, and may find that because it is turn of certain branch that their candidate would be more successful in unifying family even though his character and capacity for leadership are slightly less than opponent.Tiumalu v. Tiumalu, 3 A.S.R. 502.

 

In determination of value of candidate for matai title to government, court will consider that age and ability do not necessarily go together, and that younger man may be more capable than older candidate.Tiumalu v. Tiumalu, 3 A.S.R. 502.

 

It is of more value to government to have matai who can serve for many years than one who can serve only few years.Tiumalu v. Tiumalu, 3 A.S.R. 502.

 

Value of matai title holder to government depends upon his ability to handle affairs of family and that depends upon his forcefulness, character, personality and capacity for leadership.Betham v. Faumuina, 3 A.S.R. 537.

 

In selection of matai title holder college graduation is no guarantee of capacity for leadership, and demonstrated capacity is preferable to potential capacity.Betham v. Faumuina, 3 A.S.R. 537.

 

“The value of the holder of the matai title to the family, the village and the country” means the future value of matai title claimant.(CAS 6.0107.)In re Matai Title Sala, 4 A.S.R. 21.

 

Older candidate (65) who has led family for years in absence of matai is of more value to family than younger candidate who has not lived with the family.In re Matai Title Alalamua, 4 A.S.R. 93.

 

Value of matai to family, village and government depends on forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan customs.In re Matai Title Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 116.

 

Mere fact candidate prevails on issue of forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan customs does not mandate that this candidate is automatically of more “value to family, village and country”.Scanlan v. Tuiasosopo, 4 A.S.R. 156.

 

Candidate who is self-employed is favored over higher paid Governor’s aide who may lose job with change in administration.Scanlan v. Tuiasosopo, 4 A.S.R. 156.

 

Candidate who does not own home, despite high income, and who does not live in traditional Samoan manner, is disfavored as matai.Scanlan v. Tuiasosopo, 4 A.S.R. 156.

 

Value of matai title holder to government depends upon capacity for leadership.Tagoai v. Tuiafono, 4 A.S.R. 252.

 

Applicant who earns larger income is in better financial position to support matai title and hence of more value to family.Filipo v. Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 313.

 

Matai title holder who lives on another island 60 miles from family and has done so for 31 years would be of little value to family and village.Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

A candidate who denies existence of one of major clans of his family, insults traditions of family and could not make peace with family is of little value to family, village or country.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Record of living with family and career as junior high school teacher enable candidate to prevail in determination of matai title holder consideration as to value of holder to his family.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

In selection of matai title holder, college education does not guarantee capacity for leadership, but is valuable indicator of such capacity.Tuliau v. Sunia, 4 A.S.R. 858.

 

Candidate for matai title who had been using the title illegally for several years while objections to his candidacy were pending, would ordinarily not prevail on statutory criterion of value to family, village, and country.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0409, 1.0414.In re Matai Title Muagututi`a, 14 A.S.R.2d 67.

 

Candidate for a matai title who best satisfied the statutory criterion of value to family, village, and country did so based on his familiarity with the demands of office gained by long tenure as a comparably ranked titleholder; his rapport and standing with fellow matai; his credibility; his seniority; his singular commitment to the educational needs of the community as evinced by his long career in education and government; and his ability to settle familial dissension.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c).In re Matai Title Iuli, 14 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

A title candidate prevailed on the criterion of value to family, village, and country when he had first-hand experience with family affairs and broad rapport with other families on village affairs, as well as leadership ability demonstrated by overwhelming familial support.In re Matai Title Tela, 22 A.S.R.2d 45.

 

The matai-title criterion of value to family, village, and country seeks to evaluate a candidate's prospective value to his family, village, and American Samoa as holder of the title, in light of the first three statutory criteria and his leadership potential and plans.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c)(4).Registration of Matai Title Le'aeno, 24 A.S.R.2d 117.

 

The consideration of "Value to Family, Village, and Country" seeks to evaluate a candidates' prospective value to his family, village, and American Samoa as holder of the title, in light of the first three criteria, and the candidate's leadership potential and plans.In re Matai Title Leaeno, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

Under the fourth category of A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c) the court evaluates each candidate's prospective value to his family, village, and American Samoa as the titleholder.In re the Matai Title Tuaolo, 27 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

Where the achievements and leadership abilities of candidates for a matai title are comparable, the candidate who has more intimate daily contacts with the family and the village has the advantage in the category of value to family, village, and country.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

In evaluating value to family, village, and country in a matai title dispute, the court will consider a candidate’s ability to make peace,connection to the community, service to the family by contribution to fa`alavelave and village obligations, and family following.In re Matai Title “I`aulualo”, 2 A.S.R.3d 238 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

Retirement income is relevant factor in assessing value to family.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

Candidate who has lived with family in village and actively participated in family and village affairs shows greater awareness of family matters and has fostered better rapport with village council.In re Matai Title “Manaea”, 6 A.S.R.3d 350 (Land & Titles Div. 2002).

 

On issue of fourth criterion (value to country, family and village), court found in favor of candidate who had actively participated in family affairs, and who had rendered tautua to the family, previous matai and relevant village for all of her life; despite other candidate’s superior service to territorial government.In re Matai Title “Ava,” 7 A.S.R.3d 211 (Land & Titles Div 2003).

 

A candidate who is more intimately familiar with family members and assets is in a better position to serve the family as matai.In re Matai Title “Le’i,” 7 A.S.R.3d 244 (Land & Titles Div. 2003).

 

§ 7—Priority of Statutory Criteria

 

Court must give more weight to wish of majority of family than to hereditary right in determination of matai title holder.Letomia v. Sekoti, 1 A.S.R. 577.

 

Primary consideration for court in determination of matai title is wish of majority of family.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Wish of majority of family is to be given more weight than other considerations in determination of matai title holder.Tulesi v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

In selection of matai, wish of majority of family should be given more weight by court than hereditary right, and character, forcefulness, personality, and leadership should be given more weight than value of holder to government.Sueuga v. Laisene, 2 A.S.R. 82.

 

Court will give more weight to wish of majority or plurality of family in selection of matai title holder than to personality and character, and will give more weight to hereditary right than to value of holder to Government.(CAS 933.)Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Code requires that Court give more weight to hereditary right than to wish of majority or plurality of members of family; and more weight to wish of majority or plurality than to forcefulness, character, personality and value of the holder to the government.(CAS 933.)Siaosi v. Asoau, 3 A.S.R. 293.

 

Code provides priorities for consideration by court in determination of matai title holder.(CAS 933.)Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Code of American Samoa sets forth priority of considerations to be made by trial court in trial of matai title cases.(CAS 6.0107.)Utu v. Aumoeualogo, 4 A.S.R. 906.

 

In holding that combined third and fourth considerations of statute on determining of matai title holder are entitled to more weight than first consideration, court does not go against prior rulings.Utu v. Aumoeualogo, 4 A.S.R. 906.

 

Samoan statute provides for priority of considerations to be made by High Court in determining right to hold matai title.(CAS 6.0107.)Taufaasau v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 947.

 

Statute which lists the priority of criteria with which the Court is to evaluate matai candidates requires only that the Court give more weight to each criterion than to each of those which follow it; some consideration should also be given to the relative margins by which various candidates prevail on each of the four criteria.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Tauala, 15 A.S.R.2d 65.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(b) gives statutory priority to the four considerations in the order listed.More weight is given to each criterion than to those following it, taking into account the relative margins by which the candidates may win on each of the four categories.In re Matai Title Leano, 25 A.S.R.2d 4.

 

In matai title disputes, the court shall be guided by the four considerations set out in A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c), in the priority listed.These are (1) the best hereditary right to the title; (2) the "wish of the majority or plurality of those clans of the family as customary in that family"; (3) forcefulness, character, personality, and knowledge of Samoan custom; and (4) value to the family, village, and country.In re Matai Title Te`o, 26 A.S.R.2d 101.

 

A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(b) gives priority to the four considerations in the order listed.More weight is given to each criterion than to those following it, taking into account the relative margins by which the candidates may win on each of the four categories.In re the Matai Title Tuaolo, 27 A.S.R.2d 97.

 

The comparative evaluation of the four statutory criteria is not, and cannot be, measured by mathematical exactness.In re Matai Title Tuaolo, 28 A.S.R.2d 137.

 

In deciding a matai title dispute, the court gives greater weight to each criterion in their statutory order in accordance with A.S.C.A. § 1.0409(c), and it assesses the candidates’ relative advantage in each criterion, and stronger rankings in certain criteria may outweigh a better hereditary right.In re Matai Title “Tagoilelagi”, 2 A.S.R.3d 230 (Land & Titles Div. 1998).

 

§ 8—Determination of Prevailing Candidate

 

Where evidence shows that each of two parties seeking “matai” title are equally qualified under Samoan law and custom, Court will consider evidence as to which party is better fitted to hold title.Faga v. Moso’oi, 1 A.S.R. 375.

 

Where one matai candidate has an equal or perhaps even stronger hereditary claim to a title, Court may still award the title to another candidate who is better suited by virtue of his age and respect in the family.Galu v. Mariota, 1 A.S.R. 461.

 

Where candidate for matai title prevails on first two issues for consideration and stands on equal footing with opponent on fourth, first candidate should be selected as matai regardless of who has greater hereditary right.Letomia v. Sekoti, 1 A.S.R. 577.

 

Where candidate for matai title prevails on three issues and is equal to opponent on fourth, court will award him title.Lauvai v. Si’itupe, 2 A.S.R. 29.

 

Where candidate for matai title prevails on first, second and fourth considerations for court and stands equally with another on third, he should be awarded title.Tulei v. Valu, 2 A.S.R. 76.

 

Court may determine that two candidates are eligible and meet legislative requirements to hold matai title and award title to either of them. Simaile v. Lafoa’i, 2 A.S.R. 170.

 

Where candidate for matai prevails on first, second and fourth issues, he should be awarded title.Maea v. Alapeti, 2 A.S.R. 255.

 

Candidate for matai title who prevails on three of four issues and is on par with another on fourth should be awarded title.Kosi v. Viliamu, 2 A.S.R. 349.

 

Where one candidate for matai prevails on first and third issues and is on par with the opponent on fourth, he should be selected as matai.Selusi v. Tasi, 2 A.S.R. 422.

 

Where candidate for matai title prevails on first and fourth issues and is on parity with other candidate with respect to second and third issues, he should be matai.Saufea v. Filipo, 2 A.S.R. 477.

 

A title never registered in 49 years of registration system is not likely to be legitimate.Lagafuaina v. Gatai, 2 A.S.R. 520.

 

Fact so-called matai name has not been used for hundreds of years is strong indication there is no such name.Lagafuaina v. Gatai, 2 A.S.R. 520.

 

Court may take note of books on Samoan titles in determining if unregistered title is mere honorific title of another title.Manuma v. Faafeu, 3 A.S.R. 151.

 

Certificate signed by 27 chiefs of village that purported title in an old matai name is persuasive that title is more than mere honorific title.Manuma v. Faafeu, 3 A.S.R. 151.

 

Where one candidate ranks first on second, third and fourth issues for consideration by court, he should be matai title holder.Malaga v. Mase, 3 A.S.R. 518.

 

Two (2) candidates equal on all statutory criteria may be awarded matai title jointly with right of survivorship.In re Matai Title Maiava, 4 A.S.R. 116.

 

Evidence shows title is not split if title has but one guest-house, ‘Ava cup title, Taupou title attached to it.In re High Chief Title Mauga, 4 A.S.R. 132.

 

If neither candidate for matai title meets statutory criteria, court will dismiss case and forbid use of title by ineligible applicants.In re Matai Title Afoafouvale, 4 A.S.R. 145.

 

Candidate who possesses greater forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan custom as required by 1 A.S.C. 757(3), is choice of both clans of family as required by 1 A.S.C. 757(2), has better hereditary right as required by 1 A.S.C. 757(1) and is of greater value to family, village and country as required by 1 A.S.C. 757(4), will be selected as matai.In re Matai Title Lea’eno, 4 A.S.R. 152.

 

Candidate for matai title who prevails over another on three of four issues which law requires court to consider should be selected as matai.Tagoai v. Tuiafono, 4 A.S.R. 252.

 

Where objector to applicant for matai title holder ranks ahead of applicant on first, second, and fourth issues for court to consider and ahead of other objector on second, third, and fourth issues, he should be registered as title holder.Veve v. Faatama, 4 A.S.R. 418.

 

In determination of matai title holder, where all candidates rank equally on issue of clan favorite and one objector ranks first on issue of character and value to family and second on issue of heredity, that objector is entitled to matai title.Reid v. Talalele, 4 A.S.R. 458.

 

Where objector prevails in three out of four considerations in determination of matai title holder, he is entitled to matai title.Tuaolo v. Tutogi, 4 A.S.R. 488.

 

Where candidate for matai title holder prevails on first, third and fourth issues and stands equally on second, he is entitled to be matai.Faagau v. Tulei, 4 A.S.R. 490.

 

Under statute which provides four considerations for Court in determining matai title holder, and provides for priority among these considerations, person who prevails under both third and fourth priority has greater right than person who prevails only on first consideration.Asuega v. Manuma, 4 A.S.R. 616.

 

Where one candidate prevails in first consideration to be made by High Court in determining matai title holder, but other candidate prevails on remaining three, candidate prevailing on three is entitled to be registered as holder.Vainini v. Ala, 4 A.S.R. 683.

 

Under statute which provides four considerations for court in determining matai title holder, and states that order of four is one of priority, person who prevails under both third and fourth priority has greater right than person who prevails only on first consideration.Utu v. Aumoeualogo, 4 A.S.R. 906.

 

Where one candidate for matai title proved his fitness to hold the title under three of the four statutory criteria, and the only other candidate knew of the trial date but failed to appear, the candidate who did appear would be held best qualified to hold the title.A.S.C.A. § 1.0409.In re Matai Title Muagututi`a, 14 A.S.R.2d 67.

 

Where no candidate for a matai title had best satisfied one of the four statutory criteria for choosing a matai, the title was registered in the name of the candidate best satisfying two of the remaining three criteria.In re Matai Title Iuli, 14 A.S.R.2d 116.

 

When a matai title decree has been vacated and the case remanded, the vacation of the judgment inures to the benefit of all of the losing parties, whether they perfected their appeal or not, because it vacated the underlying judgment and granted all parties rights to a new trial on their interest in the title.Faumuina v. Vaouli, 31 A.S.R.2d 2.

 

§ 9Enforcement of Matai Title Decision

 

High Court erred in previous decision barring descendants of Salave’a Malua from holding Salave’a title.In re Matai Title Salave’a, 4 A.S.R. 44.

 

Court may enjoin a person from holding himself out as the holder of a matai title that has been lawfully registered in the name of another person.A.S.C.A. § 43.0303.Togiola v. Tafesilafa'i, 4 A.S.R.2d 54.

 

Territorial statute makes it a crime to claim a matai title lawfully registered in the name of another person.A.S.C.A. § 1.0414.Togiola v. Tafesilafa'i, 4 A.S.R.2d 54.

 

Losing contestants in matai title dispute and their supporters who subsequently participated in a ceremony purporting to bestow the title on someone other than the person in whose name it was lawfully registered, who disrupted a meeting, and who proclaimed their intention to interfere with the decisions and acts of the lawfully registered matai had transgressed the rights of the lawful matai and would be enjoined from further transgressions.Togiola v. Tafesilafa'i, 4 A.S.R.2d 54.

 

Losing candidate for matai title and his supporters, who from the time of the adverse judgment had attempted to prevent the reunification of the family and compliance by the prevailing candidate with the traditional prerequisites for formal ceremonial assumption of the title, would not prevail in a subsequent suit seeking removal of the prevailing candidate on the ground that he had not undergone such a ceremony. In re Matai Title Sotoa, 6 A.S.R.2d 91.

 

Losing candidate for matai title and his supporters could not prevail in their contention that a single title could be held by a "court-selected matai" and a rival "family-selected matai"; territorial statutes prohibit anyone but the legally registered matai from disposing of communal lands or authorizing improvements on such lands. In re Matai Title Sotoa, 6 A.S.R.2d 91.

 

Court could not find that family members had wilfully disobeyed its prior order enjoining them to cooperate with matai where that order had not been clearly explained to them.In re Matai Title Sotoa, 8 A.S.R.2d 10.

 

Where a matai title has been registered as such for over eighty years, its holder is listed as a matai of the village in a forty-year-old document signed by various other matai of the village, and the leading matai of the village testifies that the holder of the title in question is regarded as a matai within the village and sits in the village council, court will conclude that the title is a matai title whose holder can own communal land.Moea`i v. Te`o, 9 A.S.R.2d 107.

 

Territorial statute prohibits anyone from using a matai title before title has been registered in accordance with provisions of statute.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.401 et seq., 1.0414.I`aulualo v. Siofaga, 10 A.S.R.2d 26.

 

Where family had agreed that two persons would jointly hold matai title, and one of the two co-holders registered the title in accordance with statutory provisions, territorial statute required that the other co-holder be enjoined from using the title.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0401 et seq., 1.0414.I`aulualo v. Siofaga, 10 A.S.R.2d 26.

 

Candidate for matai title who had been enjoined from holding himself out as the title holder, and from asserting any authority or doing anything the title holder would do, committed contempt of court by performing a role in a village function which was ordinarily performed by the matai whose title he claimed and which was absolutely inconsistent with his status as an untitled man, notwithstanding the claim that he had received a "special dispensation" from the village council to allow him to perform this role as an untitled man, where such dispensation was a smokescreen designed to insulate him from the consequences of violating the court order.In re Matai Title Tauala (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 19.

 

Having two or more persons serve as joint holders of the same matai title is consistent with the law and custom of American Samoa.In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele, 16 A.S.R.2d 63.

A matai title bestowed contrary to statute cannot be registered or otherwise recognized; and use of an unregistered matai title is a criminal act.A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0401-1.0414.Toilolo v. Poti, 23 A.S.R.2d 130.

 

Registration of matai names was first decreed in 1906 by Regulation No. 8.1906, but the regulation did not contain a prohibition against using an unregistered matai name.Section 79.8 of the 1937 Code, which prohibited the use of an unregistered matai name, only provided criminal sanctions.Peni v. Lutali, 30 A.S.R.2d 68.

 

While judicially ordered consequences might be in order in some situations, it would be inappropriate to vitiate 73 years later a legal document executed by parties who, in the absence of contrary evidence, apparently acted in good-faith belief in each other's authority.Peni v. Lutali, 30 A.S.R.2d 68.

 

§ 10Removal of Matai

 

Historically, a Samoan family or members thereof, could forcibly remove matai on their own volition and appoint another member of the family as matai.Tiumalu v. Fuimaono, 1 A.S.R. 17.

 

In modern times, matai may be forcibly removed only by application to the court and improper deprivation of title and vested rights of matai will subject wrongdoers to punishment.Tiumalu v. Fuimaono, 1 A.S.R. 17.

 

Where it is proved that matai has threatended to burn a fale of sister, has stated that it would be a good thing if all children of member of family were dead, has demonstrated pride which has resulted in difficulties for family in village, has told members of family that they could quarrel as long as they liked, has made native beer in violation of laws, has made girls of his family engage in immoral practice with and before strangers, has claimed al family lands for himself and his immediate family, and has misused church funds, then he should be removed as matai.Asuega Family v. Asuega, 1 A.S.R. 581.

 

Petition for removal of matai is equitable in nature, and principles of equity apply to such proceedings.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 1 A.S.R. 587.

Petitioners to remove matai from title cannot bring such petition where they have failed to follow custom by attempting reconciliation with matai and where they have prevented family unity and failed to abide by decision of court.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 1 A.S.R. 587.

 

Reasons for removal of matai must be substantial and not inconsequential or trifling.Fano Family v. Faatiliga, 2 A.S.R. 125.

 

Where matai and members of family petitioning for his removal are from different families, petition is improperly brought.Fano Family v. Faatiliga, 2 A.S.R. 125.

 

Gambling is a misdemeanor and does not render matai ineligible to hold title, and where there has been no prosecution or conviction for gambling, there are no grounds for removal.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 2 A.S.R. 213.

 

Code provides for procedures for removal of matai title holder.CAS 79.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 2 A.S.R. 213.

 

Card indicating matai was unsatisfactory employee is not evidence of embezzlement.Mauga Family v. Mauga, 2 A.S.R. 213.

 

Codification sets forth procedures and requirements for removal of matai title holder.Fano Family v. Faatiliga, 2 A.S.R. 125.

 

Burden of proving that three-fourths of adult members of family desire removal of matai is upon those who file petition asking for removal, and where they fail to meet his burden, petition will be denied.Tupuola v. Tupuola, 2 A.S.R. 188

 

Matai convicted of disorderly conduct and/or assault three time in four years is not a good leader, has brought disgrace to family, and may be removed as matai.Faagata Family v. Faagata, 2 A.S.R. 273.

 

Code provides procedures for removal of matai title holder.CAS 934.Fao Family v. Fao, 2 A.S.R. 299.

 

When asserting grounds for removal of matai, equity jurisdiction of court is invoked and court will not consider grounds where party asserting them has shown unreasonable delay and lack of vigilance.Fao Family v. Fao, 2 A.S.R. 299.

 

Where three-fourths of family members have not signed petition for removal of matai, court will not consider action for removal.Fao Family v. Fao, 2 A.S.R. 299.

 

Code provides that three-fourths of family may petition for removal of matai title holder, and that matai may have hearing before High Court.CAS 934.Asuega v. Mauga, 3 A.S.R. 70.

 

Where three-fourths of adult members of family do not sign petition for removal of matai title holder, court must dismiss petition.Asuega v. Mauga, 3 A.S.R. 70.

 

Persons who may petition for removal of matai title holder are blood members of family, those married to blood members of family living with family and persons living with family who render service to matai.Asuega v. Mauga, 3 A.S.R. 70.

 

Age of majority in American Samoa is eighteen, and person under eighteen may not sign petition for removal of matai title holder.Asuega v. Mauga, 3 A.S.R. 70.

 

Matai who, in nine years, has failed to get family to live in peace and harmony and hwo has been ousted from village council, is failure as matai and should be removed for benefit of family.Fanene Family v. Penirosa, 3 A.S.R. 425.

 

Persons of higher matai title within family are required to serve lesser matai titles, and hence are included among those in “family actively serving the matai” for purposes of CAS 6.0110(1).Tuiteleleapaga Family v. Filioali’i, 4 A.S.R. 24.

 

Where court removes matai, family shall select replacement under Samoa custom.Ativalu v. Mana, 4 A.S.R. 518.

 

Where evidence justifies it, court will remove title from matai.Ativalu v. Mana, 4 A.S.R. 518.

 

Where evidence in case involving petition for removal of a matai showed that the matai had served well for twenty-six years and retained the active support of some family members and the affection of almost all, court would not order his removal but would order him to meet with petitioners and make every effort to become reconciled with them.Tavai v. Pone, 3 A.S.R.2d 9.

 

Statute requiring attempted resolution of "controversies over matai titles" before Secretary of Samoan Affairs before judicial action may be commenced applies not only to cases of matai appointment but also to petitions for matai removal.A.S.C.A. § 43.0302(a).Members of the Taufi Family v. Taufi (Mem.), 12 A.S.R.2d 6.

 

Copy of petition for matai removal without accompanying certificate of irreconcilable dispute from Secretary of Samoan Affairs must be referred to Secretary for resolution.Land & Titles Rule 4(a).Members of the Taufi Family v. Taufi (Mem.), 12 A.S.R.2d 6.

 

High Court may remove a titleholder from a matai title upon a petition by any member of his family if the court finds the titleholder has been absent from American Samoa for more than one year.A.S.C.A. § 1.0412.Alai`asa v. Seigafo, 17 A.S.R.2d 3.

 

Court may consider the family's wishes and the reasons for the matai's absence when deciding whether to remove a titleholder from a matai title.Alai`asa v. Seigafo, 17 A.S.R.2d 3.

 

High Court may remove a title from a matai upon a petition by any member of his family if the court finds the matai has been absent from American Samoa for more than one year.A.S.C.A. § 1.0412(a).Aoelua Family v. Aoelua, 17 A.S.R.2d 88.

 

Absence from American Samoa for purposes of statute allowing the court to remove a titleholder absent from territory for more than one year from his matai title is a different question from whether one is a bona fide resident of the territory for purposes of the voting statute.A.S.C.A. § 1.0412(a).Aoelua Family v. Aoelua, 17 A.S.R.2d 88.

 

Court may consider the family's wishes and the reasons for the matai's absence when deciding whether to remove titleholder from a matai title.Aoelua Family v. Aoelua, 17 A.S.R.2d 88.

 

Petition of family members to remove titleholder absent from American Samoa for more than one year from his matai title was granted where titleholder planned to be absent indefinitely, petitioner and many signatories to the petition actively participated in family affairs, considerable family support favored the petition, and titleholder's continued absence would encourage usurpers to the title.Aoelua Family v. Aoelua, 17 A.S.R.2d 88.

 

An matai absent from American Samoa may be removed through a petition process.A.S.C.A. § 1.0412.Leapagatele v. Nyel, 17 A.S.R.2d 201.

 

Having the discretion to permit an absent matai to retain his title, a court may, but is not required to, consider the wishes of family members actively serving the matai.A.S.C.A. § 1.0412.Aoelua v. Aoelua Family, 21 A.S.R.2d 1.

 

A matai who has been away from American Samoa for than one year is an absent matai, and is subject to removal from office pursuant to A.S.C.A. § 1.0412(a). Infrequent, irregular, and brief returns do not toll a matai's absent status.Randall v. Leapaga, 25 A.S.R.2d 90.

 

The court's discretion to remove a matai may be influenced, but not fettered, by the health of matai and his spouse, and by his support from family members willing to actively serve him.Randall v. Leapaga, 25 A.S.R.2d 90.

 

The interests of a family cannot be well served by a matai who does not live in the family village.Randall v. Leapaga, 25 A.S.R.2d 90.

 

It is self‑evident that a matai's place is with his family, and that the meaningful excursus of his duties demands his continuing presence in the territory.Randall v. Leapaga, 25 A.S.R.2d 90.