Liberia: 'We Are Not Answerable to Other Branches of Govt'

Judge Nancy Sammy declares as she takes over case of Missing L$16B at Criminal Court 'C'

The assignment of Judge Nancy Sammy to preside over Criminal Court 'C' in Monrovia, where two of her senior male colleagues were forced to step aside from further hearing into the alleged missing US$835,367.72 and L$2,645,000,000 involving Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) current and past senior officials, could put her credibility to test if she makes good on her vow to resist any political interference into her judgment.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Judge Sammy in 2013, and subsequently commissioned her as Resident Judge of Lofa County, which assignment makes her the first female judge to preside over the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Her two predecessors, Judges Peter Gbeneweleh and Blamo Dixon, were compelled to step aside from further hearing of the case following intense political pressure, according to judicial sources.

Judge Sammy said: "Some politicians might try to use our courts as platform to promote themselves by interfering in judicial decision, and so you have to take judicial notice of that fact."

Sammy's statement came on Monday, November 11, when she delivered her charge during the opening of the November 2019 Term of Criminal Courts, A, B, C and D for Montserrado County, which was attended by Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor and several other judges and lawyers.

Judge Sammy reminded her colleagues that they should not allow themselves to be pressured, coerced, or to let their courts to be used as a platform by politicians to promote themselves, stressing, "Please do not allow any politician to interfere in judicial decisions you will make."

She spoke on the theme, "The Impact of Our Actions as Stakeholders in the Judiciary."

Judge Sammy told her audience that they are aware that the judiciary is an independent branch of the government and, as such, she said, "we are not answerable to any member of other branches of the government besides our bosses at the Supreme Court."

More importantly, she said, that the judicial decisions are only subject to judicial review by their superior courts and nobody else, stressing that judges and magistrates are not politicians, rather dispensers of justice.

By this, she said they are under legal duty and obligation to always ensure that justice prevails in every case that is brought before them.

To achieve this, she told her audience, "We must at all times exhibit cool neutrality in the cases we handle, and we must always remember that we are never parties to a suit."

However, she said that if cases are brought before them as judges that would cause conflict of interest, then in such situation, she advised, "the most appropriate thing to do is to recuse yourselves as a sitting judge from hearing such cases."

She said that it is important to do so, "because as dispensers of justice, we cannot allow ourselves to be caught in situations that would embarrass us and the entire judiciary."

The female judge (Sammy) then noted that though she and others are relatively new to the judgeship, "a core value we have upheld is to resist outside influence, and to be prompt and expeditious in handling matters that come before us."

In a nutshell, she maintained, "we shall work diligently during this term to ensure that the law takes its course in clear, precision-driven and in a fearless manner."

Sammy reminded her audience that, like the blindfolded goddess of Justice mounted on a pedestal at the entrance of the Temple of Justice with the inscription that reads: "Let Justice be done to all", as judges they have been assigned to, as the inscription reads, ensure that cold and transparent justice is done to all men and women. According to her, it means that "we have no personal interest in any matter before these courts, our actions and decisions will be purely based on the conviction that we have acted on the facts, and evidence that have been presented to us and will make judicial determination within the ambit of the law."

Therefore, Judge Sammy vowed, "we do hereby solemnly promise that we will fairly, and impartially discharge our duties without fear, creed, religious affiliation, tribalism, or relationship- a reaffirmation of our oath as judges."

It can be recalled that CBL executives, including Milton A. Weeks, former executive governor, Charles E. Sirleaf, deputy governor, Richard Walker, director for operations, Joseph Dennis, deputy director for internal audit and Dorbor Hagba, director of finance, were arrested following the release of the USAID-backed Kroll report, and the report by the Special Presidential Investigation Team (PIT), which uncovered a wide-range of discrepancies in the printing of new Liberian dollar banknotes worth billions, and the controversial disbursement of US$25 million intended at the time for infusion into the economy to curb the rising exchange rate between the Liberian and US dollars.

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