Monday, September 18, 2006

Getting used to life and work

A new day; a new blog. Since Ofu, it has gradually become easier to live here in American Samoa. Jaydn is enjoying his school and meeting new friends, Jessi has enrolled in a Samoan and Tahitian dance class (boy, can she move those hips!) and plays piano at ward members' homes, and I have taken up blogging and reading when I'm not working. But the thing we love to do the most is to sightsee and travel. We also go to the park frequently; it's ironic that we now live closer to a park than we ever have. Jaydn loves to go and play ball at the park:

One of the first things I noticed when we got here was that I now had the most beautiful drive to work I will ever have in my lifetime. Practically the whole drive borders the ocean, and when the waves are big, it is difficult to keep your eyes on the road. Thank goodness, my co-clerk and I carpool. So, I was able to take a few pictures of part of the drive a few weeks ago:

Here's a picture of the drive in Pago Pago harbor:

Now, I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression of my job; I work hard. But the clothing here is more casual than in most clerkships. I can't imagine wearing a nice white shirt and tie every day to work here. In a month, the white shirt would probably be brown due to the moisture and my own sweat! Yeah, law clerks wear hawaiian shirts and casual khaki pants to work here. And, I forgot to mention, SANDALS. And so do the judges!

I've worked on a small taste of everything since being here (only a month so far). The laws here are quite different; there is no UCC or UPC, and no equal protection. Probably the best example is that only Samoans can own land. If I decided to live here for several years (which I won't), I'd want a better place to live. I'd have no choice but to rent, unless I adopted a Samoan child and bought land in his or her name (that just causes a whole host of other problems, which I won't go into).

The High Court is part trial court, part Appellate Court. It's strange, but sometimes one High Court justice will hear a case at the trial level, and it will then be reviewed on appeal by the other High Court justice (there are only two). There are several associate "judges," who are, from what I can understand, high 'matai' chiefs in American Samoa. So, it is possible that Mike, the other law clerk, could write something for one of the justices for a case at the trial level, and I could then be asked to write an appellate opinion, essentially reviewing Mike's work!

Mike and I are also responsible for making sure that the American Samoa Reporters are published, the library is kept up-to-date and in good condition, and we have to work on the hiring process of the new law clerks for the next two years. So, there is a lot to do when you're not writing for the judges.

Well, it rained virtually all day today. Jessi called me and said she was experiencing a small river running through our front room. The light in the living room is broken, our kitchen faucet is leaking, and now apparently the roof is, too. But life is good, and if I were to complain, I know who would make sure I'm kept in line:


ABQ Mom said...

Jayden is a great looking kid! I love that "tough guy" pose. Looks like he could do some serious damage.

How fun to read your blog posts and catch a glimpse of a different land and a different lifestyle. Just like any place there are +/-'s even in Paradise!

Sorry about all the rain, we've had a summer like that here in New Mexico, finally the monsoons are over!