Chief Justice Francis Korkpor has rejected judge Sekajipo Wollor's claim that the Supreme Court owed him a domestic travel allowance.
According to him, the Court does not owe Judge Wollor any domestic travel allowance and cannot pay what they do not owe.
“When we assign you to two circuit courts in the same place, it does not require extra money, but the Judiciary gives you something because of limited funds. As a Chief Justice of this country, if anyone has a problem within the judiciary, approach me so we can settle things together,” Justice Korkpor said.
The Chief Justice disclosures implied that the Judiciary takes both the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County and the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Rivercess County as the ‘same place’, instead of taking into consideration proximity and accessibility.
Justice Korkpor further that it is against judicial canon for a judge to engage the media. However, if the Chief Justice’s statement is anything to go by, Judge Wollor is in complete violation.
An agitated Justice Korkpor made the revelation at the opening of the November 2021 Term of court for Criminal Courts A, B, C, D, and E, in Montserrado County on Nov. 8.
Meanwhile, the issue between the two judicial officials now raises new concerns about how or where lower court judges may seek redress, especially when the Chief Justice is the alleged offender on the one hand, as well as the proper interpretation of judicial assignments, on the other.
Judge Wollor says he simultaneously presided over two separate courts in two separate counties -- the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County and the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Rivercess County, during the November 2018 Term of Court.
By their own rules and procedures whenever the Chief Justice assigned a judge to another county to preside over the circuit court there, the assigned judge is given the amount of a little over US$2,000 as domestic travel allowance, representing 10 days of chambers session, 42 days of jury session and 10 days after jury session.
Judge Wollor is claiming that for the November 2018 Term of Court, Justice Korkpor assigned him to preside over the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County and the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Rivercess County simultaneously.
Unfortunately, according to Judge Wollor, since he ended his services of the two courts, for which he claimed entitlement to domestic travel allowance for over US$4,000, Justice Korkpor has deliberately refused to pay him for presiding over one of the courts, despite several discussions with the chief justice and the court administrator, Counselor Elizabeth B. Nelson.
Judge Wollor then accused the Supreme Court Administration of being behind the non-payment posture by the Chief Justice.
The Judge in, a communication, dated November 2, 2018, wrote that he had written and held a discussion with Justice Korkpor and other justices and judges regarding his domestic travel allowance.
In Wollor's letter addressed to the Associate Justices and the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia, reads, “I extend my sincere compliments and write to inform you of the following to wit:”
“1. That, during the August Term of Court, 2018, I received two assignments bearing the signature of His Honor Francis S. Korkpor, Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, assigning me to preside over two separate counties and courts, the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County and the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in RiverCess County.
“2. That, your Honor, since I joined the Judicial Branch of the Government, in 2005, as a judge, this is the first in our Judicial history.
“3. That, upon the receipt of said assignments, I thought the Traditional Judicial Practice would have been taken care of, that is a travel and subsistence allowance of the two courts and counties.
“4. To my surprise, I received only travel and subsistence allowance for one county.
“5. That upon the receipt of the travel and subsistence allowance for one county, while in one of the counties, I called the Comptroller of the Judiciary to ask why only one county, but the Comptroller failed to give a convincing answer.
“6. Your Honor, I need your intervention because I believe that, same was inadvertently done,” the letter concluded.