Chief Justice Francis Korkpor on Wednesday admitted that Criminal Court ‘E’ failed to follow the act that created it. His Honor made this remark at the induction ceremony marking the appointment of Atty. Joseph S. Fayiah as Resident Circuit Judge of Criminal Court ‘E’, which has been embroiled in controversy of late over rulings by Judge Cianneh Clinton-Johnson to release foreign nationals convicted of rape on US$25,000 bail.
Explaining the proper composition of that court’s bench, the Chief Justice noted “only one judge has been presiding over it,” while the act established Criminal Court ‘E’ mandated it “to be manage by two judges [who] should sit and handle cases together.” Justice Korkpor further clarified.
Stopping short of apologizing for Judge Johnson’s rulings, the Chief Justice indicated that they contravened the law, since “the crime of rape is a nonbailable offence, meaning that if a person is convicted of said crime, he at no time can be bailed out of jail by a judge.”
Further, the Chief Justice admonished the inductees, which also included Cllr. Yarmie Q. Gbessie for the post of Relieving Judge of the Republic of Liberia, to be committed to their new posts and fair in their judgments.
“Being a judge,” he said, “is not just wearing the robe. It means fairness and impartiality, whenever you are presiding over cases before you.”
Drawing their attention to the larger issue of nation building, the nation’s top judge noted that Liberia depends on the decisions they will make as judges which can affect the nation.
“The decisions you make can lead this nation to destruction, so you need to be fair in the decisions that you will be making in the interest of peace and stability,” the Supreme Court boss advised the new judges, adding “you have to justify the confidence reposed in you by the people.”
Responding on behalf of his colleague, the new Criminal Court ‘E’ Judge Fayiah assured that he would not do anything to hinder the media from covering his court, as was done prior to his induction.
“The press and all bonafide journalists will be our friends and partners in the deposition of justice, therefore, we would allow covering court proceedings and reporting exactly the facts as they take place in and before the court,” the Resident Judge vowed.
However, Judge Fayiah said, “any journalists be it print or electronic media that recklessly reports on court proceedings before us on the basis of proven falsehood and malice with the sole intent to injure our judicial character and the lawful and truthful disposition of justice they would be held to answer within the confines of the law.”