Presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yarmie Gbesay says some of the “opinions and judgments emanating from judges of court of records are unimaginable, unthinkable and leave doubt as to our competency, honesty and commitment to duties.”
Judge Gbesay said in a charge at the opening of Circuit Courts at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Monday, 14 November that it was fair for “us to admit” that some judges have failed and neglected to measure to the task as evidenced by the quality of opinions and judgments they deliver.“If a judge sitting in one of the criminal assizes without indictment elects to issue a writ of arrest and charge a crime, trial without jury, then one wonders whether he/she is really a judge as contemplated by the authors of constitution,” Judge Gbesay said.
He said one wonders whether judges should be free of disciplinary action when the judge is knowledgeable and it is glaringly determined that the wrongful act is deliberate.
While critiquing the actions of fellow judges, Judge Gbesay had earlier raised concerns over the welfare of Liberian judges and magistrates, suggesting that judges here who pass two academic degrees and have acquired years of experience were earning about one -third of what legislators earn or two – third of what cabinet ministers reportedly earn.
He said worse of it is the lack of standard pension plan for judges here, drawing a conclusion that a judge who serves his country until he or she turns 70 years is expected to have a take home pension salary of less than US$100 per month.
“Therefore, a lawyer who [choses] to be a judge is a lawyer who has elected to die shamefully in poverty. This harsh future reality facing judges of Liberia [obviously] has impacted their performances and needs to be addressed,” he suggested.
Judge Gbesay said there was an urgent need for judicial renaissance in Liberia as one of the prerequisites for national development.
Using the United States as a case study, one regarded as a model of Liberia’s democratic system, Judge Gbesay said the U.S. prioritizes the importance of the judiciary in every respect, including its budgetary allocation.
In the U.S., Judge Gbesay suggested that while the President earned annual salary of $400,000 in 2015, the Chief Justice earned $269,000, followed by Associate Justices with annual salaries of $249,000.
Below what the Associate Justices earned in the U.S., Judge Gbesay argued that the Vice President of the United States earned $237,000, followed by Circuit Court Judges with annual earnings of $$215,000.
He said Senators and Representatives earned $174,000, saying it clearly demonstrates that the judiciary is the pillar of the democratic system in the U.S.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah