The Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘D’, Judge Sikajipo Wollor, has openly accused Chief Justice Francis Korkpor of interfering with the functions of subordinate court — a rare accusation which is coming to the public for the first time.
Delivering his charge at the opening of the August 2022 Term of Courts, Wollor, who Korkpor had assigned to preside over the 5th Judicial Circuit in Grand Cape Mount County, accused the Chief Justice of unilaterally making changes to the law that established Criminal Court ‘D’ -- the amended title 17 of the New Judiciary Law of 1972.
“Justice Korkpor removed the portion that talked about the assigned judge concurrently with the resident judge thereto, shall have authority to act on all matters coming before the court,” Wollor said.
“[He] made himself a lawmaker by unilaterally changing me, as the Resident Judge, from having anything to do with matters coming before my court. This is a serious matter and a mockery of justice,” Wollor told his audience, who appeared speechless to witness a sitting judge attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Section 24.10, of the law, among other things, states that “the Criminal Court ‘D’ situated in Montserrado County, including the other judicial circuit courts of the Republic, shall always be considered open for adjudication of matters over which they have jurisdiction, and for the purpose of filing any pleading or other papers authorized by Rule of Court or statute, or issuing and returning and final process, and of making and directing all interlocutory motions, order and rulings, wherever they are present within the circuit, the circuit judge assigned to a circuit court during his assignment and the pre-trial chamber session prior thereto, concurrently with the resident judge thereto, shall have authority to act on all matters coming before the court, and if neither is available, then except for the trial of an action and any motion in connection therewith, which may be made during and after such trial or any motion for an order that would dispose if the action, in whole or in part, in any manner, all other matters may be heard by presiding judge of the Circuit Court adjoining the circuit where the action is triable.”
Wollor, while defending his accusation in front of other judges and lawyers, placed specific emphasis on the part of the law that talked about “the circuit judge assigned to a circuit court during his assignment and the pre-trial chamber session prior thereto, concurrently with the resident judge thereto, shall have authority to act on all matters coming before the court.”
His revelation comes as Korkpor is nearing retirement on September 5 — removing him from the helm of the Supreme Court, and then subsequently replaced by the nomination of a new Chief Justice by President George Weah.
Providing reasons for his rare disclosure, Wollor alleged that the Chief Justice mocked him in 2021, when was cited along with Court Administrator, Cllr. Elizabeth Blamo Nelson, the Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’, Cllr. Roosevelt Z. Willie and the Executive Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Cllr. Edwin Martins, then County Attorney of Montserrado County.
At the meeting, Wollor alleged that Korkpor, in the presence of the others inform him to only handle armed robbery, terrorism and hijacking cases that are already being indicted, and not to be a part of any pre-trial chamber session.
According to Wollor, every judge assigned to the Criminal Court ‘D’ has been implementing the Chief Justice 2021 mandate, contrary to the law that created the Criminal Court ‘D’.
Wollor publicly quoted Korkpor as saying, “When people are arrested for alleged crime of armed robbery, the Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘D’ should not have any jurisdiction until the armed robbers are indicted. Hence, Judge Willie, in Criminal Court ‘A’ should handle the alleged armed robbers short of indictment.”
Wollor told his audience that when he asked Justice Korkpor, during the meeting, “What is your reliance?” In response Justice Korkpor said, according to Judge Wollor, “I am the Law.”
He added that, from that time, Willie has been usurping his function. “Said statement from Chief Justice Korkpor is not different from those that were in the pithecanthropus, or homoerotic days.”
Meanwhile, several legal practitioners, including the Public Defender of Grand Cape Mount County, Cllr. Boima E. Paaswee responded to Wollor’s charges, but did not comment on the matter raised against the Chief Justice.