Auckland law student appointed trial court judge in the Philippines

28 October 2013
Joan Mosotalla

There’s a party waiting for Joan Mosatalla when she gets home to the Philippines next month – the 37-year-old Masters student is about to become the youngest trial court judge in the province of Albay.

Her family is proud of her achievement and delighted by her success and has promised celebrations when she interrupts her studies to return home to be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“Some people say I am bright, but I say I am diligent,” she says. My parents are both retired Government employees and I come from an average, normal family. My three sisters and I were sent to good schools and taught to work hard – one is an executive producer/writer, one is a doctor and the other is a nutritionist/dietician– so we have all done well.”

Joan is at the Auckland University Faculty of Law as a recipient of a New Zealand ASEAN Scholarship Award.

She arrived in February and will complete her Masters studies specialising in Public Law early next year.

The Faculty has been kind to her and she is especially pleased with the support she has received from Professor Warren Brookbanks.

“I didn’t really expect to be appointed a judge,” she says. “Such an appointment is very political in the Philippines and I didn’t know anyone who could back-up my nomination.

“When I found I’d been short-listed from a field of about 20 applicants, I asked the Professor to write a letter to the President for me and he was my main referral. I am very grateful for his support and I rang him straight away when I found out I had been appointed.”

Professor Brookbanks comments that “Joan is a bright and very able student and she will make an excellent judge”.

In keeping with modern times, Joan found out about her appointment via Facebook, triggering a mad rush to confirm her success.

Her husband, Attorney Neil Canicula, a specialist in elections and family law, will celebrate with her when she goes back to take her oath in the presence of her family from Tabaco City in Albay.

It will undoubtedly be the biggest day to date in her very successful young life.