Liberia’s Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., has warned judges and magistrates against interfering and compromising justice in favor of friends, reminding newly transferred court authorities that the “court knows no friend.”
Fears of interfering and compromising justice in favor of friends have prompted the court system over time to rotate magistrates and judges on assignments to avoid them being too familiar with party litigants and deciding cases based on friendship.
Meeting with newly transferred magistrates and court staffs in Brewerville City and New Kru Town on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Chief Justice Korkpor said once “you” stay too long to a place, you become familiar and friendly with people…, but warned that compromise and interference with cases were not good for the justice system.
He said judges and magistrates are being routinely transferred to avoid them being too familiar that could lead to compromise of cases, and reminded that the best the court can do is to hear evidence and make judgments in accordance with the law.
Chief Justice Korkpor said in some places, residents would appeal that certain judges and magistrates should not return to their areas because of how they handled cases; while for some, he said, the people would prefer having them to stay with them longer because of their impartial and fair judgment.
The Liberian Chief Justice said judges and magistrates could be friendly with people because they are humans too like any ordinary Liberian, but warned that they should remain firm at the same time in making decisions to earn public respect and confidence.
During his interaction with newly assigned Brewerville City Court Stipendiary Magistrate James Dudu, he urged magistrates and judges not to take their jobs lightly because he said each case, before being appealed to the Supreme Court, would have to begin at the lower courts.
Under the Liberian laws, he said accused parties convicted of capital offenses like rape, or murder which demands death sentence, a convict would completely be put away from their family for live time; thus, he stressed that there is a need to fairly examine evidence before judgment.
The Liberian Chief Justice said the court is seen as the last place the people depend on when they are hurt; and separately warned Magistrates Dudu in Brewerville and Magistrate Cooper in New Kru Town that they could be transferred if they give court administration any reason to lose confidence in them.
He has additionally warned court officers against brutalizing people, who may resist arrests, instructing officers to instead, call for re-enforcement.
He said court officers should treat people with respect if they were sent to issued summons or writ of arrest, reminding them that even the complainant could be in the wrong after the case had been tried.
By Winston W. Parley