Chief Justice Yuoh roars
--Orders aptitude tests for all judicial workers
By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberia’s Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh has ordered that judicial workers should sit for an aptitude test as part of her plans for reforms.
The failure of bailiffs at Circuit Courts to write comprehensive returns has triggered the Chief Justice’s order for their examination, along with clerks, and sheriffs.
“All of you bailiff, clerks, sheriffs … all of us got to take an examination. All of us will do so. This is re-branding the judiciary and it’s at every level,” Chief Justice Yuoh mandated during the opening of the Civil Law Court in Monrovia Monday, 20, March 2023.
She had requested bailiffs and staff of the Circuit Court to stand before the bar and answer to some unethical breaches, mostly on their failures to file returns for close to a month after giving precepts to serve defendants.
In the presence of lawyers and jurors two bailiffs named Zabile Freeman, and Annie were given a pen and plain sheets to write returns and present them to Chief Justice Yuoh for her review.
When he was called upon, Mr. Freeman was seen holding his belt and did not address the Chief Justice as “Your Honor.”
This prompted the chief justice to say that Mr. Freeman has not been trained to greet the Chief Justice, saying she regrets how the resident judge at the court Freeman is assigned is managing with him.
After being given approximately twenty minutes, the two bailiffs could not write a fitting return. They had grammatical errors, misspellings, and misplaced words and exhibited poor handwriting skills in their returns.
Reviewing their written returns, Justice Yuoh requested the bailiff to spell the word defendants, and they also failed to do so.
“I will … be meeting with y’all on Saturday after 12:00 pm. Under our law, after 12:00 pm we are close,” she said.
“This is what happened when I met a bailiff who for 15 years couldn’t read and write,’’ Chief Justice Yuoh added.
Chief Justice Yuoh described the impromptu public exercise as a new dawn and the re-branding of the image of the judiciary. According to her, in the little time she has at the Judiciary, she will ensure that the Judiciary’s re-branding is perfectly done.
Chief Justice Yuoh inquired from Bailiff Freemen if he was a high school or college graduate, and he responded in the affirmative.
“You are a college graduate but what you have written has questioned your capacity. For almost seven years you can’t spell defendant, it’s shameful and serious,” she warned.
“For you (referring to Annie), not because you are a female, but your mistakes are many. You can’t spell officers, notice, and many others,’’ Chief Justice Yuoh told the female bailiff.
She stated that the judiciary is very big, and if you have somebody who is hiding their inadequacy, they put it on the public.
Explaining their functions, Justice Yuoh told the bailiffs that it’s not their responsibility to handcuff anybody, but rather to come back to the court and inform the clerk who will inform the judge for the onward report to the Ministry of Justice.
“I said this in my March Term opening that we have come out with a new slogan, ‘’ re-branding the image of the judiciary,’’ she said.
“The Staff, we will look at also your qualification and I am saying that because I am calling all of you serving in our circuit courts to a meeting with me Saturday,’’ Justice Yuoh continued.
According to her, when she went on a tour, it was surprising that a bailiff could not perform his only duty assigned to him, which is to receive precepts from the clerk and serve the public and make returns.
She said a bailiff who could not read nor write, was working in that capacity for fifteen years.