Liberia: Judiciary, American Bar Association Trains Public Defenders

A view shows the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Liberia on November 3, 2017.

The James A. A. Pierre Judicial Training Institute of Liberia at the Temple of Justice in collaboration with the American Bar Association has trained public defenders from across the country.

The training, which ended yesterday aims to build the capacity of public defenders also known traditionally in Liberia as ‘poor-man lawyer,’ in ensuring Public Defenders effectively carry out their duties across the 15-counties.

The training, under the auspices of the Judicial Training Institute, is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Cllr. Moses S. Soribah, Executive Director, James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute told the reporters during the opening: “I want to let you know that you, the public defenders, have a very important role in the justice system. We want you to see this training as a means of building your individual legal skills in performing your duties.”

Cllr. Elisha T. J. Forkeyoh, a former public defender of Montserrado County, warned the others to avoid being tempted by judges at various courts in the country, stressing that once public defenders understand the true nature and due course of the law, they will be fearless.

“Public defenders in Liberia should be more practical in their duties after this training because sometimes if you allow yourself to be tempted by judges, they might likely provide rulings that might lead your clients to feel that you mislead them.”

Liberia’s Public Defense Office was established in 2009, under the judiciary, to provide legal representation for the indigent. Several lawyers were recruited as public defenders, most of them new graduates of the law school.

Meanwhile, participants of the training in Buchanan, which is viewed as a more interactive forum, said they will take advantage of the training and be more practical in serving the Liberian people, something they say has been their greatest priority.

The training brings together 34 Public Defenders and other judicial actors from the 15 counties of Liberia and other international partners.