Justices at the Supreme Court have responded to criticisms made against the full bench by politicians and the public in general during the 2017 elections that it had lack the ability to cope with overwhelming election disputes that were brought before it.
Some politicians and members of the public had described the court as a “partisan court” and “a Pontius Pilate Court.”“… There were others, including presidential candidates who, for reasons only they knew, labeled the Supreme Court as partisan court, a prohibition court or a Pontius Pilate Court, etc,” Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., said Monday, 12 March at the opening of the high court.
President George Manneh Weah accompanied by cabinet officials, attended the Supreme Court’s opening for the first time as president, joining members of the Legislature and members of the diplomatic corps at the event on Capitol Hill.
Chief Justice Korkpor, however, said members of the Court were not swayed; noting that they remained focused on the task at hand and carefully heard and decided elections cases timely.
Of all the elections cases the Supreme Court heard, he said only one is currently pending, adding that today, some of the critics are now praising the Court.
There were many predictions prior to the elections that there would have been an overwhelming appeal before to court due to the large numbers of representative aspirants who were vying for the seats in the country’s 73 electoral districts.
But Justice Kpokpor said with a average of 12 person competing in each of the 73 districts, the court was able to prove their critics wrong.
“They completely underestimated the good judgment of the Liberian people, particularly those who took part in the elections.”
He said the court feels very elated about the renewed surge of public confidence reposed in members of the court and they will work assiduously to sustain the confidence.
But despite the new surge of confidence repose in the court, Justice Korkpor said infrastructure and human resource development remain key priority areas for the Judiciary, noting that a number of judicial complexes and magistrate courts have already been built while others are still under construction.
He named River Cess County, as a county which remains the most challenging area, saying that the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in the county remains in a very deplorable condition while the only two magisterial courts there are also in deplorable conditions and are farther apart.
In separate responses, Justice Minister Cllr. F. Musa Dean pledged to do everything to live up to justices’ expectation. He credits ordinary Liberians for taking a decision to resist and denounce violence during the elections, noting that justices’ commitment and dedication to duty, led to a historic transfer of power here.
He recommits to working with the Judiciary to reduce pretrial detentions, over – crowdedness in prisons, fast – track cases and decongest the dockets of the circuit courts which he says will have a corresponding effect on the Supreme Court docket overtime.
Liberia National Bar Association president Cllr. Moses Paegar says the Bar has no doubt that the same zest that attended the handling of the elections cases will be carried over in the “Pro – Poor” dispensation and to the end that the dispensation of justice will permeate every corner of the nation as has never been seen before.