WHY SHOULD JUDGES AND MAGISTRATES ENGAGE INTO PRIVATE BUSINESS?

Written By: Emmanuel N. Reeves

0777-101-773/ reevesain@gmail.com

The Judiciary, the Supreme Court has espoused, is the cornerstone of the jurisprudence of our national democratic values. The Liberian Constitution, the highest and most sacred of the laws of our nation-state, recognizes the pivotal role the Supreme Court is expected to play in protecting and creating a standard at which courts should function, regulated and how Judges and lawyers should conduct themselves as they carry out their professional work with this premised on the pillar of ethical standards. The Constitution proclaims, at Article 75, The Supreme Court shall from time to time make rules of court for the purpose of regulating the practice, procedures and manner by which cases shall be commenced and heard before it and all other subordinate courts. It shall prescribe such code of conduct for lawyers appearing before it and all other subordinate courts as may be necessary to facilitate the proper discharge of the court’s functions. Such rules and code, however, shall not contravene any statutory provisions or any provisions of this Constitution.

Consistent with Article 75 of the 1986 Constitution which vest absolute authority only in the Honorable Supreme Court to promulgate rules for Judges and the smooth operation of courts in Liberia, this Constitutional authority is given to the Honorable Supreme Court to promulgate rules for the court is not unbridled, in the other words, that Constitutional authority is subject to Article two of the 1986 Constitution. The provision states in relevant part “Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect.” The impression is that the rules of the court should be consistent with the 1986 Constitution.

In 1997, the then Chief Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court, Her Honor, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott constituted a committee called Canons and Law Review Committee comprising of four persons. The Committee was headed by former Chief justice, Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper and ably assisted by three Counselors of the Supreme Court bar. The committee primary function was to develop, review and submit final draft of the rules called Judicial Cannons intended to govern Judges, lawyers, etc.  Before the formulation of the 1997 committee, a committee referred to as the Rules Committee had earlier submitted a draft to the Supreme Court in 1993. That committee was constituted by former Chief Justice, His Honor, Cllr. James G. Bull. It was that 1993 draft document which was used as the working instrument for the 1997 committee. By 1998, the Canons and Law Review Committee submitted its first draft to the Supreme Court. In order to have the full participation of state actors and stakeholders, the Supreme Court had seminars with Judges, Magistrates, lawyers, students from the law school; comments and recommendations were put forward. Those comments and recommendations were subsequently incorporated into the committee’s work. In the same 1998, the final draft was submitted to the Supreme Court for review and consideration. In January of 1999, the Rules for Procedures in Courts, Code for Moral and Ethical Conduct of Lawyers and Judicial Canons for the Moral and Ethical Conduct of Judges were declared effective and in full force.

In 2000, one year after the coming into being of the Judicial Canons, there was a serious Constitutional challenge and attacked on the Canons as to its legality and as to whether it runs contrary to the separation of power doctrine as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution. In the case IN RE: JUDICIAL INQUIRY COMMISSION’S REPORT ON HIS HONOUR LOGAN BRODERICK, Resident Circuit Judge, Third Judicial Circuit, Sinoe County, Republic of Liberia 40 LLR 263 (2000).

HIS HONOUR LOGAN BRODERICK, Resident Circuit Judge, Third Judicial Circuit, Sinoe County, Republic of Liberia was being investigated for the ethical transgression by the Judiciary Inquiry Commission as prescribed by law. Judge Broderick refused to appear before the commission in person but did file his response. In his response, he argued amongst other things that the commission was without legal authority to investigate him on grounds that the Chief Justice was without any legal authority to constitute said commission, that the judicial Canon was illegal and also runs contrary to the separation of power doctrine enshrined in the 1986 Constitution. In support of his argument, he further stated that the Supreme Court should have turned him over to the Ministry of Justice to be investigated and that if for any disciplinary action, the court should recommend his impeachment to the national legislature. In keeping with long-standing practice within our jurisdiction, it is only the Supreme Court that has that inherent authority to pass on the Constitution issue whenever the same is being raised, because Separation of power raises Constitutional question, the inquiry commission then passed the matter onto the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Speaking thru Justice Scott opined that Section 21.1 of the new Judiciary Law vest in the Supreme Court administrative authority. It states further that The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be the head of the Judiciary Branch of Government and he shall be responsible for the general administrative supervision thereof, that Judges, Clerks and Ministerial Officers of the courts of Liberia shall be under the administration of the Judiciary Branch of the Government.

The Honorable Supreme Court in deciding the question before it relied on Sancea v. Republic, 3 LLR 347 (1932), that it was unconstitutional for the Legislature to enact a statute granting power and authority to the President of Liberia to suspend Judges from office. Therefore, this Court concludes that by the authority of the inherent administrative powers of the Judicial Branch of government, as established by Articles 3, 4, 65-67 of the Liberian Constitution, and chapter 21, section 21.1(1) & (2) of the New Judiciary Law, approved 1972, the judicial Canons to govern the behaviour of Judges declared effective on January 22, 1999, by this Honorable Supreme Court remain in full force and effect.”

Clearly, it is this opinion cited above that gave full legal weight to the Canons and made it binding within the Republic of Liberia.

Twenty years after the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in the Broderick case and 21 (twenty-one) years after the Judicial Canons came into existence, legal pundits, law students and lawyers are still raising concern on some provisions of the Canons most notably Canon thirty-one. Canon thirty-one in summary placed a bar on Judges from doing business, the direct text of Canon thirty-one is stated verbatim below:

“A Judge should avoid giving ground for any reasonable suspicion that he is utilizing the power or prestige of his office to persuade or coerce others to patronize or contribute, either to the successor private business, therefore, enter into such private business or pursue such a course of conduct, as would justify such suspicion, nor use the power of his office the influence of his name to promote the business interest of others; he should not solicit for charities nor should he enter into any business relationship which would in the normal course of events, reasonably bring his personal interest into conflict with the impartial performance of his official duties.’’

As quoted above, Judicial Canon thirty-one raised three separate issues: 1) Conflict of interest 2) Business 3) Charity.

Why is it so much that this particular section of the Canon has been at the centre stage of the conversations amongst legal scholars? Well, this paper will endeavour to shine the light in the reversed order against Canon thirty-one in support of the position that Judges should get involved in a business.

The Constitution of 1986 of the Republic of Liberia under ‘’Fundamental Right’’, chapter three, Article 11 states: ‘’a) All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining the security of the person and of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution. b) All persons, irrespective of ethnic background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political opinion, are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution. c) All persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law’’. Particularly Article “11(c)

The equal protection clause as enshrined within the 1986 Constitution guarantees the safety and protection of every Liberian irrespective of which branch of government an individual may be employed. This right cannot be curtailed or enjoined, neither any individual nor person is given undue preference with respect to being equal and protected before the law. The same Constitution in Article three states that ‘’Liberia is a unitary sovereign state divided into counties for administrative purposes. The form of government is Republican with three separate coordinate branches: The Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency’’.

The position taken by the framers of the Constitution both in Article 3 and Article 11 of the 1986 Constitution forms the basis for the argument that Judges should equally have the privilege and unhindered opportunity to venture into business just as members of both the Executive and the Legislature are establishing and carrying out business(s). It is the inherent responsibility for members of the three branches of government to uphold, the defendant and protect the law and not only members of one branch of government as it is demonstrated.

The 1968 Constitution prohibits conflict of interest and set a strong threshold for public official and punishment thereof. That same instrument vest authority in the Legislature to enact a code of conduct for all public officials (emphasis supplied).  Article 90 of the 1986 Constitution provides substantially as follows:

  1. a) No person, whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any other activity which shall be against public policy, or constitute a conflict of interest. (emphasis supplied)
  2. b) No person holding a public office shall demand and receive any other perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on account of any duty required by the Government.
  3. c) The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute a conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.

To further strengthen Article 90 of the 1986 Constitution, the national legislature enacted a code of conduct in 2014 meant primarily to regulate the conduct of public officials (Emphasis supplied).

In 2015, just two days to enter the New Year of 2016, the then-Speaker of the House of Representative Republic of Liberia, J. Alex Tyler assembled both ordinary Liberians and government officials to form part of his dedication and the grand opening of a US$ 1million dollar Hotel and resort called Jandy Paradise on the Robert Field Highway in Marshall, Margibi County. In his opening statement, he said ‘’ Several Liberian government officials do have the desire and opportunity to invest but they were finding it difficult to venture into business due to fear of the Presidency”. AllAfrica.com January 6, 2016.

As mentioned, when the then Speaker spoke of Liberian government officials having the desire to venture into business, he wasn’t referring to those who are Judges and Magistrates, instead, he was referring to those who are in the Executive and Legislature. Interestingly, as stated in Article 3 of the 1986 Constitution supra, The Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are all equal and separate branches of government and under the equal protection clause as enshrined in Article 11 of the 1986 Constitution supra, it wasn’t intended to give actors within one branch of government leverage over the other, for to do so will defeat the intent of the framers. Judicial Canon thirty-one substantially defeats the purpose of Article 3 and Article11 of the Constitution in that it suppresses and denied officials from the Judiciary particularly Judges and Magistrates to exercise their rights as provided for under the 1986 Constitution. This provision in the judicial Canon is patent discrimination against judicial officials(Judges and Magistrates), which runs afoul to the fundamental right of equal protection guaranteed to all persons by Article 11 of the Liberian Constitution (1986).

When the then Speaker made those statements couple with the dedication and grand opening of his One Million United States dollar business, by then the code of conduct had been into force and effect one year after, not only that but Article 90 (a) which substantially speaks against conflict of interest and frowns on public officials engaging into “ANY OTHER ACTIVITIES” (such as engaging into private businesses, etc) which shall be against public policy. This section within the Constitution was ignored and abused by the then Speaker, the third person in command. Additionally, in 2015 same year the then Speaker opened his business, he ran a budget as Speaker in the tone of one million, fifty-eight thousand (1.5million usd), an astronomical amount. If the Speaker who ran a very lofty budget could still venture into business, similar opportunity and privilege should be given to Judges and Magistrates who make far less than what other public officials serving in a different branch of government are controlling in cash.  Judicial Canon thirty-one talks about conflict of interest, same as the code of conduct, technically, it means that officials of the Judiciary are to abide by both the Canons and the code of conduct because they are public officials and the code of conduct is for all public officials. One may argue that the two instruments don’t have the same weight in terms of their history and creation but both are intended to protect against conflict of interest and uphold integrity, confidence and maintain trust while serving in public office. As already indicated, for the then Speaker to privately own and operate a business runs contrary to the very code of conduct the Speaker presided over when it was enacted into law, yet no punishment neither was his business place on the band nor did he place his business in BLIND TRUST. On the other hand, Judges are not to engage in business for to do so will lead to either the Judge or Magistrates being recommended for impeachment or other harsher punishment based upon the Judiciary Inquiry Commission investigation and recommendation. This aspect of practice which favours one group from a separate branch of government and disfavours another group of people from another branch even though they are equal and works within the same government should be stricken in keeping with Article two of the 1986 Constitution because such provision runs afoul to the Article 11(c) of the Constitution. Similarly, situated people should be treated equally and not differently. If actors from the Legislature and Executive are allowed without any hindrance to getting involved with private business, so too should those who are in the Judiciary most notably Judges and Magistrates get engaged in private businesses. Legislators play a pivotal role in making strong laws. Members of the Executives played a similar role in ensuring that the law is enforced to the letter, same as Judges and Magistrates are to ensure that justice is served without fear or favour. Just as there has been growing concern with respect to conflict of interest were Judges and Magistrates to engage in business, more concerns are also being raised when Legislators who are to make good laws start to engage in business, perhaps they may even enact laws to suit their business interest. On the other hand, the law may not be enforced on businesses that are owned by those within the executive whenever they are not in compliance.

In the fiscal year, 2016-2017 under the then Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay (Second Speaker of the 53rd Legislature) his budget for his office was US$2,011,136, yet at that time he still had a very large rubber farm being operated by him while serving as Speaker, dealing into rubber business. After his loss in the mid-term senatorial election in River Gee County, he returned to private practice to look after his law firm. In 2016, he was appointed Justice Minister and Attorney General, Republic of Liberia. In 2018, the late Cllr. Frederick Doe Cherue returned to his law firm to resume private practice. While serving as Justice Minister, Dugbor Law Firm was still in full operation, another conflict of interest. He didn’t give out his interest in the firm when he was serving as Justice Minister. A law firm is a business that provides legal services to clients. Firms are paid for their services rendered to clients. Cllr. Varney Sherman one of Liberia renown lawyers, currently he is a Senator and head of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, a statutory committee at the same time maintaining his interest in Sherman & Sherman law firm, a business entity that provides legal services to a client and the public and in returned clients are to pay service fees. Why should members of the Executive and Legislature be given preference over Judges and Magistrates with respect to engaging in business(s) when they are similarly situated?

Our Judicial system and laws are mostly tailored after the United States legal system. As we have ethical Canons for lawyers, so does the United States of America. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges was initially adopted by the Judicial Conference on April 5, 1973, and was known as the “Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Judges. This Code applies to United States Circuit Judges, District Judges, Court of International Trade Judges, Court of Federal Claims Judges, bankruptcy Judges, and magistrate judges. Our Judicial Canon was similarly created for Judges and Magistrates from the court of records, the court not of records, Specialize courts and Justices who are serving on the Supreme Court. Clearly, it can be seen from the two Canons that their intent remains the same. But there is a slight difference notably with the question of whether a judge should get involved in private business or charitable venture, the two Canons see it differently. Recourse to judicial Canon 4 (four) of United Sates ethical Canons is set forth below to help us better understand the exact text.

Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities that are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office 

“A judge may engage in extrajudicial activities, including law-related pursuits and civic, charitable, educational, religious, social, financial, fiduciary, and governmental activities, and may speak, write, lecture, and teach on both law-related and non-legal subjects. However, a judge should not participate in extrajudicial activities that detract from the dignity of the judge’s office, interfere with the performance of the judge’s official duties, reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality, lead to frequent disqualification, or violate the limitations set forth below.

(A) Law-related Activities.

(1) Speaking, Writing, and Teaching. A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice

(2) Consultation. A judge may consult with or appear at a public hearing before an executive or legislative body or official:

(a)on matters concerning the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;

(b)to the extent that it would generally be perceived that a judge’s judicial experience provides special expertise in the area; or

(c)when the judge is acting pro se in a matter involving the judge or the judge’s interest.

(3) Organizations. A judge may participate in and serve as a member, officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of a nonprofit organization devoted to the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice and may assist such an organization in the management and investment of funds. A judge may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies about projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

(4) Arbitration and Mediation. A judge should not act as an arbitrator or mediator or otherwise perform judicial functions apart from the judge’s official duties unless expressly authorized by law.

(5) Practice of Law. A judge should not practise law and should not serve as a family member’s lawyer in any forum. A judge may, however, act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for a member of the judge’s family.

(B) Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in and serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of a nonprofit civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organization, subject to the following limitations:

(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will either be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.

(2) A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization but may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions.

(C) Fund Raising. A judge may assist nonprofit law-related, civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organizations in planning fund-raising activities and may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee. A judge may solicit funds for such an organization from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority and from members of the judge’s family. Otherwise, a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose. A judge should not personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or is essentially a fund-raising mechanism.

(D) Financial Activities.

(1) A judge may hold and manage investments, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity, but should refrain from financial and business dealings that exploit the judicial position or involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with lawyers or other persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves.

(2) A judge may serve as an officer, director, active partner, manager, advisor, or employee of a business only if the business is closely held and controlled by members of the judge’s family. For this purpose, “members of the judge’s family” means persons related to the judge or the judge’s spouse within the third degree of relationship as defined in Canon 3C(3)(a), any other relative with whom the judge or the judge’s spouse maintains a close familial relationship, and the spouse of any of the foregoing.

(3) As soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, the judge should divest investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification.”

As mentioned hereinabove, Canon four (4) of the United States ethical Canons for Judges gives Judges the opportunity to carry out charitable fundraising, to engage in an investment opportunity and other business ventures as they may from time to time so desire. The American Jurisdiction which we copied most of the laws and practices unarguably is the best in the world, it has the best system, qualified Judges, a good court system and it operates an impartial justice system. Additionally, America has the biggest, largest and strongest economy in the world, not only that, it respects dignity for labour, has a better retirement plan for public servants. On the other hand, Liberia is far below the pecking order, cannot match up with most of her African counterparts’ least to say the United States of America. America regarded as the greatest country on earth and the very country we copied after, that system created a law that allows Judges to engage in business aside from their official duty as Judges, it means that The United States Supreme Court is cognizant of the fact that salary alone forJudges cannot create a sustainable life. Furthermore, no one lives a happy and comfortable life only surviving on a paycheck; an extra source of income must be added to accommodate other financial obligations. We cannot make law pretending to create standard when the very people we intend to create a standard in order to protect the system are grossly underpaid, salaries are always delayed. How does that in itself defeat the purpose of Judicial Canon thirty-one and undermine the very system we want to protect?

The essence of allowing Judges to get engaged in business put to rest the question of how Judges should maintain their life and the life of their family after retirement from office. Under our Law, the judge retires from office at the age of 70. At the age of 70, it’s very rare to have a typical person still have energy, zest and strength to take on another employment, in fact, not many entities will risk employing a 70-year-old person, because the person level of performance would’ve significantly declined. The question is, how do we expect Judges and Magistrates to survive after retirement? Do we want to have a society where Judges and Magistrates after serving public office turn into mere beggars? Judges and Magistrates should live a dignifying life. The reason why officials from the Legislature and Executive engage in business apart from their salary is in anticipation of how life will treat them after serving public office and it is in preparation of that anticipated life that they engage in a business. It is for this same reason and several other reasons for which Judges and Magistrates should be allowed to engage in a business while serving at the court. We live in a poverty-driven society, a society where an entire family born in poverty, grow in poverty and even die in poverty, this idea of not allowing Judges engaged in a business is in support of continuously having and growing a poverty society. Nobody saves all of their salaries most especially when the only source of income is squarely and the only salary as in the case of Judges and Magistrates.  On average, it is most likely that savings will be no more than 10% of total income save by a Judge. Judges do have family and other attending needs. A Judge will have to deal with the question of School fees for children, medical and physical needs for family, have to assist other extended families. After retirement where there’s no salary, how will life be for a judge and his/her family is a question that must be squarely resolved and it can only be resolved if Judges and Magistrates are allowed to engage in a business.

 

The Constitution in Article 72 sets out the perimeter and legal framework that provides for the salaries, allowances and benefits for Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of inferior courts. The instrument further indicates that although such salaries, benefits and allowances may from time to time be increased and not diminished, the framers specifically indicated that the only means by which those salaries, benefits and allowances may be touched or reduced is only when it is done under a national program and the only body cloth with that Constitutional authority to derive such national program should be the national legislature and not the executive branch of government. The framers had in mind that time and circumstances present different challenges and to protect the remunerations and other benefits belonging to the Judiciary, the framers could not have left that to the wide discretion of the legislature bearing in mind that they are political actors, for to do so could have left the Judiciary at the mercy of another branch of government which in itself could have undermined the independence of the Judiciary. Additionally, legislative enactments are subject to amendments at any time, unlike Constitutional provisions that must go thru the regular process as spell out in the Constitution.

In support of this Constitutional provision, Judicial Canon Six states that “The judge is a government-paid official and must be paid adequately; he holds an exalted position which prevents him from engaging in any business pursuit, therefore he must be provided with the necessities of life and with every means by which he will be able to perform his judicial duties effectively, efficiently, and speedily. The judge must be encouraged and given the incentive to live a decent and dignified life that would prevent financial and domestic worries and enable him to repel temptation which is susceptible to human life. As a priest of justice, a judge should not be given the cause to be corrupted in the performance of his judicial duties so as to be justified for any disciplinary action taken again him if found deficient in those qualities.”

A deep review of the two instruments cited will be addressed further in this paper, until then, a quick review of the economic quagmire is imperative to mention.

 

Currently, the economic situation we are faced with couple with harmonization in salary that cut across has substantially affected Judges’ salary, not only has it undermine the earnings of Judges, it has also crippled their savings, their social responsibility to their family as well. The cost of living in Liberia has quadruple, life has become difficult and unbearable, on the contrary Judges salary have been reduced. Judges earnings can no longer meet up with the current economic reality and other attending needs. Laws, regulations and rules are made to conform with the current reality. The harmonization exercise which cut across the three branches of government, not only has it severely hurt the earnings of judicial officers, instead, it was not the making of the national legislature under the caption of “national policy” which then could compel judicial officers to surrender a portion of their salaries but it was entirely the making of the Executive branch of government. This arbitrary decision to reduce Judges and Magistrate’s salary also undermines Judicial Canon six in that the Canons expressly provides that Judges should be adequately paid to bear in mind that they are prohibited from engaging in business and that such salary and other benefits should be so enough so that Judges will not be subjected to the social pressure of life. But how both the Canons and the Constitution are in support of better salaries, benefits and allowances and at the same time kicking against any action that will undermine the earnings of Judges, and in contrast, the executive branch of government reducing Judges’ salaries and doing everything possible so that Judges cannot or be prevented from living a dignified life? This defiles every logic in that members from the three branches of government salaries got equally reduced. Both the executive and the legislature in the face of harmonization of salaries are allowed to engaged in businesses unhindered, on the contrary, Judges who also underwent the same harmonization are not allowed to engage in business. Let it be noted that at the time the Judicial Canon came into force and effect, the economic situation that existed at that time cannot be compared to what exists today, therefore Judicial Canon thirty-one was created to address what existed at that time and not what existing today. After twenty years, we are still parading with such a law, a law that substantially deviates from what we are currently faced with. When time and circumstances change, laws are to be changed to meet up with the current reality. Today, we are calling for a change in most of our laws on the books, ranging from Constitutional provisions to other statutes that we believe are not in conformity with current-day reality. In a demonstration of that, the Law Reform Commission was created to start reviewing old laws on the books and submit same to the legislature, same should be done with the Judicial Canon that will allow Judges to engage in business.

 

In the United States of America, those in public positions before assuming political office that has private business operating are allowed to place their business in BLIND TRUST. A blind trust is a type of trust fund that’s designed to mask the assets therein from the person or persons designated to receive the proceeds. Most often associated with politicians, blind trusts theoretically sever any link between a person and control over his or her assets in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. As stated, the same approach can be adopted for Judges and Magistrates who are desirous of engaging in business, that their business should be placed in a blind trust in an effort to deal with the question of conflict of interest. Our society has no respect and regard for public officials who served and exited public corridors. They are made to suffer and struggle and left alone to die in agony. If we must have a balanced society, it is about time that we start to have a national conversation with respect to the life of Judges and Magistrates after serving public office, will life be better for them, will their pension benefit be able to cater to their needs and wants? We cannot pretend to turn our eyes away from reality.

 

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