Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor has confirmed that corruption has overwhelmed the judiciary and that judges are seeing defending for money clients against the spirt of justice.
Speaking at the opening of the May Term of Court Chief Justice Korkpor said that due to the corrupt practices of the judges, they are no longer respected.
According to the Chief Justice, the practice of corruption has been around too long in the judiciary.
Despite the Chief Justice‘s delay in the confirmation of corruption being practiced by judges in the judiciary, it has been a famous notion harbored by the public that only the highest bidders get justice from the courts. It is also a foul cry that there is no justice for the poor.
It can be recalled that many cases taken to the courts by most complainants in search of justice, are being double-crossed and most often turned down while the defending lawyers connived with the defendants to put justice on sale.
Based on the lack of confidence in the court system many investors who have been victimized by the corrupt practice have left the country or carried their investments some place else whereas others don’t trust the courts and the lawyers and dare not engage the system.
As a result, the courts serve as illegal institutions while the judges and lawyers are tasked with the sole responsibility to ensuring the people’s rights are protected and the judges adjudicate cases and justice is meted out to the rightful individuals and institutions and not to compromise the rights of others and entities because they don’t have deep pockets or maintained political contacts and connection with some higher ups, therefore credibility of most judges are at the lowest ebb; while other complainants uprightly take the law directly into their own hands instead of seeking redress in the courts.
Others gravely blamed the judiciary system for the difficulties that have marred the country, be it in the concession areas, in the political space’ domestic settings and all facets of the nation’s livelihoods. However, others expressed shock and dismay over the Chief Justice’s notion about the existence of corruption in the judiciary and considered conceding now as too belated.
Meanwhile, in the State Department Human Report on Liberia under the sub topic:Denial of Fair Public Trial the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but judges and magistrates were subject to influence and engaged in corruption.
Judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, grant bail to detainees, award damages in civil cases, or acquit defendants in criminal cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors, or to have court staff place cases on the docket for trial.
In August the Global News Network reported that Eva Mappy Morgan, chief judge of the Commercial Court and president of the National Trial Judges of Liberia, was the subject of an investigation for alleged malpractice. Judge Morgan was linked to a 2013 communication in which it was alleged the Commercial Court authorized the withdrawal, without the consent of one of the litigating parties, of an amount of $3.4 million at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment, which was being held in escrow pending final determination of a commercial dispute between Ducor Petroleum Inc. and the
Monrovia Oil Trading Company. The court unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of more than three million dollars from the bank. The Judicial Inquiry Commission investigation of the case continued at year’s end. The commission is an auxiliary group established within the judiciary with the exclusive power and authority to receive and investigate complaints against judges for violation of any provision of the judicial canons.
Some judicial officials and prosecutors appeared subject to pressure, and the outcome of some trials appeared to be predetermined, especially when the accused persons were politically connected or socially prominent.
In July, Criminal Court C dismissed indictment charges against suspended Andrew Wonplo, the director of passports and visas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after he was arrested in August 2019 for selling passports to foreign nationals from 2018 to 2019.
The case was dismissed on a procedural ruling that the state did not proceed within the statutory period. On September 16, however, the government issued a second writ of arrest against Wonplo and 12 other suspects for fraudulent issuance of more than 4,000 passports, which the government alleged deprived it of more than $30,000 in revenue.
While the Supreme Court made provision through the establishment of the Grievance and Ethics Committee for the review of unethical conduct of lawyers and suspended some lawyers from legal practice for up to five years, the public brought few cases. Both the Grievance and Ethics Committee and the Judicial Inquiry Commission lacked appropriate guidelines to deliver their mandates effectively and were perceived as nontransparent and subject to influence.
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