Complaints of money extortion in the Liberian court system may no longer be considered mere gossips among ordinary citizens, as Criminal Court “E” or Rape Court Judge Joseph S. Fayiah vows to throw out “Courts staff demanding and extorting money from aggrieved parties” as preconditions for the issuance and service of precepts [writs or warrants].
Judge Fayiah has years of working experience in various positions within Liberia’s judicial system since 1992 as Associate Magistrate and other positions, including Judicial Inquiry Commission member and training officer of the James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute before his induction Wednesday, 23 September by Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. Judge Fayiah alarmed that “unpatriotic individuals” have infiltrated the courts here, allowing non-lawyers to use magisterial courts and courts of records as conduits for the unlawful practice of law and extorting money from the public under the direct watch of some magistrates, judges and lawyers under the canopy of ensuring access to justice for all.
At a joint induction ceremony held for both Fayia and Relieving Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay in the Banquet Hall of the Supreme Court of Liberia, he (Fayiah) expressed frustration over the infiltration of the court system by unpatriotic individuals, engaged in corrupt practices in many forms, while the Supreme Court attempts to improve conditions of service for judges and magistrates’.
He said it was now time to collectively and scrupulously police the courts with the view of making sure that judicial corruption – seen as the “the biggest enemy of access to justice in every shape and form,” is driven out of the sacred chambers and court offices.
Judge Fayiah expressed the desire for the redemption of the Liberian justice system from the hands of the “enemies of justice, peace and democracy” in order to ensure justice and equality for all before the law. He described jury tempering as great harm to Liberia’s judicial system either due to jurors’ ignorance of the workings of the courts or their deliberate and intentional desire with the aid of some lawyers and court personnel to sell justice to the “higher bidders” at the expense of either the State or the accused.
Judge Fayiah condemned such conduct as “wicked, barbaric and grossly” undermining to the integrity and independence of the Judiciary. He expressed fear that if such practice continues – even in the face of the new jury laws and systems put into place by the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government, Liberia’s justice system would continue to be painted ugly in the eyes of the international community.
Judge Fayiah sounded a caveat to those he referred to as holders of degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) respectively in jury infiltration and tempering, including lawyers, prospective jurors, jury management personnel, sheriffs and others that the jury system will be placed under a “brand new microscope.”
By Winston W. Parley