15 November 2012

Liberia: Magistrates Face U.S.$10 Fine Each

Circuit Courts judges here have imposed a US$10.00 fine against some magistrates within Montserrado County for not attending the joint opening of the Criminal Circuit Courts held at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Monday. Though other magistrates attended the program held in Court "A", judges of the Circuit Courts observed a number of absentees following a roll call by circuit court clerks during the opening program for the November term of court.

Criminal Court "A" resident Judge James W. Zotaa subsequently mandated the circuit court clerks to cite all of the magistrates, who did not attend the joint courts opening with a fine of US$10.00 each.

Magistrates, lawyers and judges of the Circuit Courts are usually assembled at the joint opening of the circuit courts where the Supreme Court's mandate is publicly read followed by the delivering of a charge by a judge, highlighting burning issues within the judiciary that must be considered by stakeholders.

Earlier in his charge Monday, Judge Peter W. Gbenewleh told magistrates that if their conduct is contrary to law, it would have a far reaching effect on the judiciary because they (magistrates) are the first point of contact for the public. Judge Gbenelweh urged the magistrates to conduct themselves well above reproach in handling matters at the magisterial courts in order not to create a negative image against the judiciary.

He said while it is true that magisterial courts are of limited jurisdiction, they are yet important. "You as magisterial court judges are the first personnel of the judiciary before whom our people appear and the first impression of the judiciary is really before the magisterial court judges; your conduct [when] contrary to law will have a far reaching negative effect on the entire Judiciary Branch of Government because you are the mirror through which the judiciary can be seen" said Judge Gbenewleh.

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