Liberia: Judge Claims Young Lawyers Hindering Access to Justice

Judge Sammy speaking during the Court opening ceremony

Judge Nancy Sammy of the Civil Law Court for Montserrado County has publicly blamed young lawyers for directly preventing court's throughout the country from the fair administration of justice.

“What we have observed and continue to observe is that some lawyers, especially young lawyers, do encourage clients to initiate litigation —  putting bottlenecks in the way of the courts by either filing unnecessary summary proceedings against magistrates,” said Judge Sammy.

“You continuously file flimsy and unnecessary motions, or bills of the information below circuit courts, or filing unnecessary petitions of certiorari with Chamber Justices against presiding judges or by requesting for endless continuances.

"We like to state here today that as judges, we are quite aware of your tactics, and these tactics that you have been employing as lawyers are aimed to present the courts far from the fair administration of justice, especially if you determined that your clients do not have a case,” Judge Sammy observed when she spoke at the opening of her June 2022 Term of the Civil Court Courts ‘A and B’. 

The accusation comes a few days after Chief Justice Francis Korkpor lashed out at judges for not executing their judicial duties in a timely fashion — resulting in overcrowded prison facilities across the country, which he described as a human rights violation. 

Justice Korkpor also decried the involvement of judges in bribery and cautioned them to desist from the practice because it tarnished the image of the judiciary. The Chief Justice then accuses judges of failing to execute their judicial duties in a timely fashion as they keep in jail individuals accused of a crime in jail over the period allowed by statute without trial — a practice he says amounts to the human rights violation.

Liberian law, according to the chief justice, provides for a speedy trial, and there are adequate provisions of the law for the adjudication of cases. “It is unacceptable and a human rights violation. These are some of the things that are causing overcrowding at prison facilities." Korkpor observed.

“This needs to stop. It has divided the family. And parents are no longer able to provide for their kids, to pay their school fees, and even house rent, because of the failure to afford them a speedy and fair trial," Chief Justice Korkpor added. "This paints a negative picture of our justice system."

But, Judge Sammy warned that henceforth, if any lawyers refuse to cooperate with the courts and deliberately engage in acts aimed at preventing  them (judges)from performing their judicial duties, “we will not hesitate in imposing the necessary penalties prescribed by the law.”