Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor says“some judges and magistrates” are becoming “very slack on duty”, describing their conduct as “conflict of interest.”
Speaking at the Supreme Court opening Monday, 12 October, Chief Justice Korkpor explained how some judges and magistrates report to work late and leave early, complaining further that some are said to be teaching at higher institutions of learning during prime-time when their courts should be in session.
“This is wrong and amounts to conflict of interest. Judges involved in such unwholesome acts should desist now or they will face penalty,” the Chief warned as he cited the Circuit Court Rule One, which mandates regular meeting according to law with the prompt attendance of assigned judges unless they are prevented by sickness or other uncontrollable inability.
Chief Justice Korkpor said Judicial Canon Number 15 requires a judge to be prompt in the performance of his judicial duties, recognizing that the time of litigants and lawyers is of value and habitual lack of punctuality by the judge in his administration of the business of the court should not be condoned.
“These rules, notwithstanding, the frequent tardiness of some judges lend credence to the wrong and unfounded notion that … the time is what the judge says it is …,” he noted.
The Liberian Chief Justice noted that when a judge is not punctual, he loses moral authority to administer penalty to lawyers and support staff, who may themselves report late at his or her court.
Besides, he says the docket of a judge who is not punctual remains crowded as work is stalled. He reminded that every judge is a practicing lawyer, stressing,“All judges know that a lawyer’s time is highly budgeted.”
Having demonstrated the financial value of lawyers’ time, he urged that a judge too should inform the court of his inability to be present in court on the scheduled date of a case just as the lawyer is expected to do.
By Winston W. Parley –Edited by Jonathan Browne