President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the late former Chief Justice, Johnnie N. Lewis, gave up his external engagements, sacrifice and personal comfort he was enjoying from being in a developed country and courageously returned home to meet the challenge and render services for the reconstruction of Liberia.
The late Cllr. Lewis in 2006 accepted President Sirleaf’s nomination and subsequent appointment to serve as Liberia’s 18th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, having served ably as an international lawyer and international civil servant in the United Nations system.
The late chief justice served more than five years as circuit judge and more than six years as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after his appointment by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2006.
President Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, House Speaker Alex Tyler, incumbent Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, legislators, the cabinet, diplomatic corps, lawyers and the bereaved family converged at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion Thursday where a Memorial Fund was launched in honor of Cllr. Lewis.
After the ceremony at the Pavilion on Ashmum Street in Monrovia, the late Cllr. Lewis’ remains were returned to the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Parlors yesterday, from where the casket is expected to be picked up on Friday, February 6, 2015 for final destination to his home county, Sinoe, for burial.
President Sirleaf said Cllr. Lewis’ outstanding service to Liberia is visible, as she cited physical infrastructure constructed during his tenure before he left from office.
As head of the Third Branch of Government, President Sirleaf said the ex-chief justice labored collaboratively “with us” to obtain the resources required to renovate the Temple of Justice and to build court rooms and court houses not only in Monrovia, but in other parts of the country.
She said courts built during his tenure… shall stand as physical monuments which for many years shall call to memory his service to Liberian Judiciary.
“But Mr. Chief Justice Lewis will not be remembered most because of physical infrastructures; he shall be remembered chiefly for his [decisive thinking], stern principles and erudition,” said the Liberian leader.
President Sirleaf said students of law, who passed through Cllr. Lewis’ tutelage at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, confirmed overwhelmingly that their Dean – Professor Lewis was studious, Socratic and scholarly.
“He was learnt in the law. Lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court Bench during his tenure knew that they had to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about the facts; the issues and the law pertaining to the matter at bar,” President Sirleaf said of the late Cllr. Lewis.
Cllr. Lewis died on January 21, 2015 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital in Monrovia at the hour of five O’clock post meridian.
By Winston W. Parley