Civil Law Court Judge Johannes ZogbayZlahn says verbal attacks against courts by unsatisfied citizens “tend to undermine the credibility of the Courts of the Republic”, ultimately causing the people to lose confidence in the ability of the courts to dispense impartial and transparent justice.
“Such conduct [is] no less injurious to the rule of law than the physical acts of attacking court officers or refusing to comply with decisions, judgments or orders of courts, because such verbal attacks tend to undermine the credibility of the courts of the Republic …,” he said Monday, 19 September. While delivering a charge at the opening of Civil Law Courts “A” and “B” at the Temple of Justice, Judge Zlahn suggested that violence against a court or its officers can be physical and verbal, citing unfairly ridiculing a judge for decision unfavorable to a particular party. Judge Zlahn ordered lawyers here to advise their clients to desist from conducts in which, he said are “recalcitrant citizens” have refused court precepts intended to bring them under court’s jurisdiction, or even violently resist eviction orders. He warned that lawyers will not escape court condemnation if they fail to advise their clients, suggesting that the conduct of lawyers towards each other and the courts during trials sometimes tend to
create poisonous atmosphere … often creating in their clients the belief that they were treated unfairly. “Lawyers are therefore admonished to conduct themselves as officers of the court and exhibit professional courtesy towards each other and towards the courts so as to minimize the incidents of citizens’ disobedience or disrespect of the courts and judicial officers,” Judge Zlahn said. The Civil Law Court Judge said it was disheartening that whenever people were dissatisfied with the outcome of a case or ruling of a judge, some of them would take to the airwaves and attribute their dissatisfaction “to nefarious intent” or criminal intent on the part of the presiding judge.In an effort to curtail such attacks against the Judiciary, Judge
Zlahn has launched an appeal to the public to visit the courts to help them become enlightened and to gain a more realistic perspective of how Liberia’s justice system works. He had argued that many Liberians who verbally attack the Judiciary do not know “that most judgments rendered by trial judges are based on verdicts returned by trial juries, who are ordinary citizens … called up as judges of facts to determine the rights, liabilities and obligations of their fellow citizens.”