13 June 2018

Liberia: No Judge At Circuit Court in Grand Gedeh County

Zwedru — As the May Term of court gradually clocks to its end, cases at the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Gedeh will not be decided. Up to now, according to our reporter, who has just returned from that far-end county said there is no judge on active duty there. The Resident Judge, Mr. George Wiles, is ill.

Party litigants have expressed regrets over the incident calling for a judge to be named in the absence of the court's Resident Judge.

Cecelia Waylee, a River Gee County resident, who traveled to Zwedru with the hope that her son's case, indicted for theft and criminal conspiracy, will be heard this court term, was disappointed.

Ms. Waylee said she still has hope that a judge will be named to free her son from his three-year imprisonment he serves currently at the Zwedru Correction Palace.

"I came last week for my son's case because I was told that his case is assigned for this term. Since I have been coming here, no judge has come to call any case, every time I come, a court staff can tell me that the judge is ill and he has not returned to work."

"All I can say is it is worrisome that my son will stay longer as I thought. Already, I believe that he didn't commit the act but now he has to stay three years at the prison and I don't know when he will be out."

Gerald Gaye's brother is charged and indicted for Aggravated Assault but he doesn't know when the case will be assigned as his brother could not file a valid bond to secure his release.

Gaye said he had gone to the court to speak with a public defender to help with the case but he did not see anyone, something he said is frustrating.

"I came here to get a lawyer for my brother but I am told that since there is no judge here all of the lawyers are at the Magisterial Court."

The wife of a murdered suspect also expressed regret over the lack of an active judge at the court, "My husband has been in that place for five years. His lawyer told me that the case supposed to start this month."

Comfort Wright is recommending that a judge be sent to replace ill Judge Wiles so that the docket can be clear for the term.

On Tuesday, June 12, the judge flew to Ghana to seek further medical treatment, after weeks of being treated in Monrovia without any positive result.

Mr. George Teah, who is one of the lawyers, who usually appear in the court to defend or prosecute a case, said they are waiting on the judiciary to send any judge.

"Most of the lawyers are now using the Magisterial Court; it doesn't mean that the Magisterial Court is performing the functions of the Circuit but we are settling some of the cases the Magisterial Court has jurisdiction over."

The Judicial Communication Director, Atty. Ambrose Nmah, in response to the absence of a judge, he told FPA that there is judge assigned to the court and his illness has hindered the function of the court.

Adding that there are three relieving judges, namely James N Gilayeneh, Sr. Montserrado County currently assign at Grand Bassa, Yamie Q. Gbeisay, Montserrado County assigned at Civil Law Court A at the Temple of Justice, and Scheaplor Dunbar assigned at Civil Law B at the Temple of Justice.

FPA gathered that there are 25 circuit judges of the 20 circuits. Four have died; two are ill and one is serving as Vice President at the ECOWAS Court in Nigeria.

Judge Gilayeneh is replacing the late Benedict Holt, who was the Resident Judge of the 2nd Circuit Grand Bassa County.

While Judge Gbeisay is replacing Judge Yussif Kaba, who is the Vice President at the ECOWAS Community Court and Judge Dunbar is replacing the late Judge Johannes Zlahn.

The Judicial Spokesperson, Atty. Nmah, said the judiciary does not have a relieving judge anymore something he said is hindering the workings of the judiciary.

He hopes that judges will be appointed to fill the vacuum created by the deceased judges.

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