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President Sirleaf Attends Formal Opening of March Term of Court of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia

16 March 2016, 9:53 am Written by 
Published in Press Release
Read 1225 times
President Sirleaf poses with members of the Supreme Court of Liberia President Sirleaf poses with members of the Supreme Court of Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has attended the official opening ceremonies marking the formal sitting of the March Term of the Honorable Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf in the spirit of coordination and partnership was in attendance on Monday, March 14, 2016 at program making the formal Opening of the March Term of Court of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia at the Temper of Justice.

Delivering his opening address, Chief Justice Francis S. Korpo, Sr. said infrastructure and human resource remain a major challenge to Liberia. He pointed out that access to justice has been hampered because of distances covered by aggrieved people in getting to the court. Chief Justice Korkpor noted that the Supreme Court will remain resolute in dispensing justice to all persons irrespective of color, creed, nationality and religion across the country.

He said during the October Term, 2016, the Court heard and decided a total of 22 cases amongst including petitions of 66 attorneys who applied to be admitted as Counselors of the Supreme Court Bar. The Liberian Chief Justice pointed out that after hearing the various petitions, the names of 50 Attorneys were submitted to the Board of Examiners from the Examination Committee, which revealed that out 48 Attorneys that sat the examinations only 33 made a pass. The successful candidates were duly admitted to practice as Counselors-at-Law, adding, “I see that as a good number of the new Counselors who are making their debut appearance before us today; I am told that they were amongst the first to appear in Court this morning” he said.

Justice Korkpor also said amongst the cases decided during the October Term, were matters involving issues of ethical and professional misconduct of some judges noting, “As we have done in the past, we again had the unpleasant duty of reprimanding three of our judges including Judge Yussif D. Kaba, Resident Circuit Judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court, Montserrado County, who was suspended for one month, while Stipendiary Magistrate Earnest Flomo Bana of the Brewerville City Magistrate Court and Associate Magistrate T. Richard Brown of Grand Bassa County were suspended each, for 6 months for violation of various provisions of the judicial canons” the Chief Justice emphasized.

Chief Justice Korkpor furthered that demonstrating on the court premises amidst clapping, jeering and booing disrupts the decorum and solemn proceedings of court. He said if this is permitted to be done by one group supporting one party litigant, then it should be permitted for the opposing party litigant but according to him the result would be chaotic; and justice cannot flourish in such unwholesome condition citing Article 17 of the constitution, which provides for the right to assemble and states that such right should be exercised “in an orderly and peaceful manner...” So, the right to assemble is not absolute. He said the very constitution, which provides for that right also places a caveat on its exercise noting the right to assemble should not be exercised in a manner that will violate the rights of others.  

He said demonstrating on the premises of the courts has a chilling effect on justice that may affect the positions of judges, jurors and witnesses and thereby deprive the parties before the courts of the right to free and fair trial. According to him the law requires judges, jurors and witnesses to listen to and examine the cases before them as they understand them from their certain knowledge independent of any outside influence or pressure noting, “As we see it the spirit of an independent decision is seriously assailed when judicial actors are pressured and coerced. This may lead to extra judicial action” He emphasized.

Chief Justice Korkpor said, currently a construction of a perimeter fence around the court house built in Barclayville, Grand Kru County is ongoing and also will seek funding to build an annex to provide for other subordinate courts that were inadvertently left out, “We will also seek funding to build residential quarters for the resident circuit judge and the assigned circuit judge which will transform the facility into a real judicial complex” He affirmed.

He said under the Regional Security Hub arrangements, work will soon begin on the construction of a judicial complex to house the 7th Judicial Circuit Court and other subordinate courts in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.

Chief Justice Korkpor said the March Term is longer than the October Term which means that all things being constant, more cases are heard and determined during the March Term of this Court. So, the opportunity is now for counselors to make timely requests for the assignments of their clients’ cases instead of waiting until the Term is about to end and when the court is occupied with writing opinions in cases already heard before rushing to request for assignment(s).

 He admonished law firms and counselors who have matters pending before the Supreme Court that the court will continue to enforce the Rules of Court regarding the filing of briefs and the Court will not hesitate to impose the appropriate penalty where there are derelicts on the part of any lawyer in filing briefs. He said the delay in the filing of briefs impedes the disposition of cases pending before this Court and affects the parties’ access to speedy justice.

Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor amongst other things thanked the People’s Republic of China for all of the supports given and the Swedish Government, through the Justice and Security Trust Fund that provided funds for the construction of four magisterial courts throughout the country. Chief Justice also thanked the Government of Liberia for provided the bulk of the funding for the construction of court premises, adding “We thanked the Government and development partners concerned for their support to the Judiciary”.

For his part, Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh who spoke on behalf of government said the judiciary has contributed immensely to  the sustenance of peace. Meanwhile Counselors Moses Paegar,  President of the Liberian Bar Association urged Lawyers and Law firms to adhere to rules of court and admonished the new lawyers to always use the constitution as a guide while dispensing justice.

The former opening was graced by members of the diplomatic corps, Clergy, Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, President of the Liberian National Bar Association, lawyers and the St. Kizito Catholic Church Choir that rendered a selections amongst others.

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