Liberia: Supreme Court Orders Public to Stay Away

Liberia's Supreme Court says it will assign cases minimally to have no more than five counsellors available for presentation, while ordering members of the public who are not a party to a case to stay away from court to avoid overcrowding to curtail the spread of the coronavirus here.

"All Circuit and Magistrate Court Judges are to assign no more than two (2) cases per day for trial (one case in the morning and the other in the afternoon) and ONLY party litigants and their lawyers are permitted into the court for each trial. The public is asked to stay away to avoid overcrowding," the Judiciary said in a statement Monday, 23 March.

The judicial measures against the spread of coronavirus come as Liberia with its very weak health system has been hit by the virus which has been waging havoc across the globe, with three confirmed cases reported here so far.

Classes of professional magistrate training at the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute are suspended, and normal court activities throughout the country will be closed at 3:00PM from Mondays to Fridays until further notice.

In a statement authorized by Judicial Public Information Director Atty. Darryl Ambrose Nmah, the judiciary orders that the preventive protocol of hand washing shall be strictly adhered to at all courts throughout Liberia, as hand washing buckets will be provided at the entrances of all courts here, beginning with Montserrado and Margibi Counties.

"Court Officers have been mandated to enforce this regulation and anyone refusing to adhere thereto will not be permitted on the premises of the court," the judiciary continues.

It says further that the court (Supreme Court) will concentrate more at this time on writing opinions in cases already heard, while it also mandates all circuit judges to encourage party litigants to opt for bench trials instead of jury trials, where possible.

"However, where a party litigant insists on his/her/its right to trial by jury, the Judge MUST suspend the hearing of said case until the health situation om the country is declared safe," the judiciary notes.

Given the health situation here, the judiciary says it is temporarily scaling down its workforce at this time, as each subordinate court is required to have a maximum of five support staffs inclusive of clerk, clerk typist, file clerk, bailiff and sheriff at work each day.The judiciary indicates that the restriction does not include court security and maintenance workers where applicable.

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