President George Weah has described former Chief Justice Francis Korkpor as an “outstanding and exemplifying public officer,” whose interest was centered around the improvement of the judiciary and ensuring the consideration of peace in the country.
Weah, while speaking at the official retirement program of Korkpor, said the former chief justice played a major role as Chief Justice, and ensured the consolidation of peace and re-formed within the Judiciary Branch of the government.
According to Weah, with the 2023 elections around the corner and with the retirement of Korkpor, his government is concerned with the challenging role the judiciary would play in the absence of Justice Korkpor.
Weah said for too long he has known Korkpor and considered him a mentor.
“Justice Korkpor was one of those who helped me during my political sojourn. And, since 1986, he was one of those who mentored me to be where I am today,” Weah explained. “He has been my mentor and a father to me. I thank him for his service to his country, for the many years he served as our Chief Justice; and I have been fortunate to have his advice. And, I mean this sincerely, an exceptional lawyer, a former Chief Justice.”
In his farewell message, Korkpor said, during the National Transitional Government, in 2004, headed by Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, he was appointed as one of the four justices of the Supreme Court. The recommendation for him to serve on the Supreme Court was made by members of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).
“The tenure of the Supreme Court, as set by the Accra Peace Accord (CPA), was two years. Thus, after the two years of service, all five justices of the court resigned to give way to the new democratically elected government, headed by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to appoint justices of the court under a constitutional government,” Korkpor narrated. “I was the only justice who was retained and reappointed to the Supreme Court.”
According to Korkpor, Sirleaf told him that her decision to appoint him was for continuity of the programs and activities of the court, and also based on certain criteria, which she considered essential of a justice, “key amongst which are knowledge of the law, integrity and human rights records,” told his audience.
When the late Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis resigned in September 2012, due to illness, President Sirleaf appointed Justice Korkpor as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
“And, the people of this country overwhelmingly endorsed my appointment. I cannot recall that there was a single person or institution in this country that raised issues with my nominations, twice as an Associate Justice and then as Chief Justice,” Korkpor said.
“I should note that I have no connection that promoted or influenced my appointments to this court, my preferments were purely based on whatever good those who appointed me saw in me. So, having been blessed with national leadership, I promised that I would not betray the confidence of the Liberian people who bestowed the honor on me. Serving at various times on the Supreme Court Bench and at the helm of the Judiciary, my colleagues and I have worked assiduously to improve conditions in the Judiciary,” Korkpor said.