14 November 2017

Liberia: 'Judges Behave Like Cowards Before Chief Justice'

Photo: Liberian Observer
Temple of Justice, home of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

A criminal court 'C' Judge yesterday publicly accused some of his colleagues of behaving like cowards in front of Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor. Judge Dixon's criticism of his colleagues followed repeated reports of disunity among members of the the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia (NTJAL).

Judge Dixon said those 'cowardly behaving judges' were constantly writing complaints against their colleagues to the Chief Justice without recognizing the existence of the association that is clothed with the authority to intervene in matters relating to judges.

Though Dixon did not mention any situation or letter against a particular judge to the Chief Justice, he maintained that the practice of finger pointing has opened a floodgate of complaints. He said instead of writing against other judges, it would be better for the judges to 'wash their dirty linens out of public glare.'

Dixon's outburst against some of his colleagues came in a speech he delivered at the opening of the November (2017) Term of Criminal Courts, A, B, C and D yesterday at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

"Nowadays, there is no unity among members of the NTJAL, a situation making us to look like we are cowards to the extent that judges are bypassing the association and complaining against each other directly or indirectly to the Chief Justice," Dixon said.

The judge's criticism against his colleagues was made yesterday in the presence of Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie who was attending the opening of the courts. Justice Wolokollie is one of the current five Justices of the Supreme Court.

Justice Wolokollie did not respond to Dixon's allegation when she was given the opportunity to address members of the judiciary attending yesterday's court opening.

Judge Dixon said he believes that the intent of the association is to have its members speak with one voice and to also form a common front to liaise with the leadership, which he claimed has proven to the contrary.

"This association is to cater to the welfare of all judges and magistrates through the collection of dues from our members, and to also resolve issues, problems or arising disputes among us for amicable settlement," Dixon reminded his colleagues.

Apart from his accusation against other judges, Dixon also accused court support staff and bailiffs (court officers) of allegedly extorting money from people who take cases to court (party litigants).

"There are few court officers who sometimes serve as party litigants, be they individuals, companies or law firms, but those cases often become a chopping spot for them on a daily basis, even when a case is disposed of by the court," Dixon claimed.

"Stop begging or extorting money from party litigants (complainants). Stop using the names of judges to beg, collect or extort money from party litigants, because such acts have the tendency to put judges at loggerheads with those bringing complaints before them," the criminal court judge warned.

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