While judicial authorities continue to blame members of the public, particularly the media for its bad image, the comments of some judicial authorities are in agreement with factors perceived to be giving rise to the declining public confidence in the court system.
The latest of such comes from the judge of Criminal Court “E,” Judge Ceaineh Clinton-Johnson who presided over the opening of the Circuit Courts “A” – “E” for Montserrado County on Monday, 10 August at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
Judge Johnson cautioned lawyers against blaming the “layman” [or non- lawyers] when they so judge “us,” and they should not also blame the judiciary, as she, instead, suggested that lawyers be bold to tell their bosses that their first duty as lawyers is to advise against “unmeritorious” suits.
Judge Johnson had agreed, however, that when the fourth estate presents matters that they have no knowledge of, they do not help to create the court as a place of last hope for man on earth. “When the Fourth Estate presents matters that they have no knowledge of … they have not helped to create the court as a place of last hope,” she said.
But she particularly warned lawyers that even if they were successful “in manipulating the system” for criminals to get justice to which they are not entitled, the breach their solemn oath which is punishable.
“The layman is watching us and they are losing confidence in us …,” she said, adding that the ordinary person now believes that lawyers can be used to invade justice for their crimes, citing comments that, she says, the ordinary persons use against lawyers when they (lawyers) knowingly give them what they do not deserve.
“…They say they know the law ooo; look I lied, and my lawyer knows that I lied. But my lawyer went to court and got me to show that I am talking the truth,” attributing such criticism to “laymen” against lawyers.
She, therefore, admonished lawyers to return to their oath which promises to create a just society that respects and protects human rights on grounds that all persons are equal before the law.
Judge Johnson warned that no amount of reform will help the judiciary until all lawyers return to their oath.
She also urged the media to ensure that whatever reporting they do respect and uphold the rule of law, but not compromise any side of a case because it would be considered an unprofessional conduct that as they report from the court, as they report from the court.
In separate responses to the charge, the Montserrado County Attorney Darku Mulbah noted that the Judges’ call for lawyers and judges to be mindful of the oath that they take, if the desire for man’s last hope on earth is to be realized, could not be stated any better than the way she put it.
Cllr. Mulbah, however, said there were many cries for justice to be administered, indicating that there were cries all around for the courts and lawyers to be able to aid party litigants into ensuring that their rights are protected as provided for by law.
The County Attorney said “we” have fall short and not living by the oath taken by lawyers, saying if judges, as well as lawyers were living by the oath they take, indeed such cries would be minimized. “But you will come to see that where we have cases in courts; and these cases are being held; party litigants have come to court and you have judges sitting down in court and are not willing to go into this matter. There and then you betray the oath that you took as a judge to dispense justice speedily,” he said.
Other the other hand, he said, lawyers let down the system when they appear not in readiness to proceed with matters in court. By Winston W. Parley -Edited by George Barpeen