Chief Justice Francis Korkpor vows
Lawyers who are openly backing people dissatisfied about the the Supreme Court’s interpretation the Code of Conduct (CoC) expected to face serious punishment, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor publicly disclosed last Thursday.
Since the court opinion (judgment) on the code that disqualified the assistant minister of administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Abu Kamara, and qualified two vice presidential candidates, Harrison Karnwea, of the Liberty Party (LP) and Jeremiah Sulunteh, of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), there have been mixed reactions among the public.
In the midst of those mixed reactions, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, during last Thursday’s hearing, appeared very furious that he interrupted Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, who was reading the court’s opinion that reversed the National Elections Commission (NEC) earlier decision to reject Karnwea and Sulunteh from running in the October presidential and legislative election for being in violation of the CoC for public officials.
At that moment, Justice Korkpor was heard publicly saying, “We received information about a lawyer appearing on a radio talk show, where said lawyer was making statement to incite the public against the justices.”
The chief justice felt short to disclose the identity of the lawyer but, went on to describe the said lawyer’s action as “travesty of justice.”
Travesty of justice means a miscarriage of justice or an act of the legal system that is an insult to the system of justice.
Recently, when Cllr, Boakai Kenneh appeared on a state radio program, the Bumper Show at the Liberia Broadcasting System, he said there was no need for the Supreme Court to have confirmed NEC’s rejection of Kamara from contesting the upcoming elections, because of violation of the CoC.
Although, the court declared that Kamara was in violation of the code because he was still serving as assistant minister for administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Kenneh argued that laws are ex-post facto, meaning “that a law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed, increases the penalties for an infraction, after it has been committed, or changes that rules of evidence to make conviction easier.”
The 1986 Constitution of Liberia prohibits making of ex-post facto law.
“The amendment on the CoC was made by the National Legislature on June 23 of this year, and NEC’s nomination process started on June 19, therefore, the amended law should not have affected anyone, because this country does not subscribe to ex-post facto law,” Kenneh was quoted as having said on the show.
It is however not clear as to whether or not Kenneh was the one who the Chief Justice Korkpor was referring to in terms of expressing dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court decision.
Korkpor went on, “This is a travesty of justice and if our investigation established that said lawyer actually made the utterance, that person will be dealt with seriously, because lawyers are face of the court, and they should not do anything that will incite the public against the court.”
According to the chief justice, for so long they (justices) have been under serious threat by people who their judgment had gone against.
“Whenever we handed down our opinions, we always received threatening remarks sometimes, through text messages against our lives for our decision,” Korkpor claimed, though he did not exhibit any threatening text messages during the Thursday hearing.
According to the chief justice, lawyers are face of the Supreme Court and it should be their sole responsibility to educate the public about any judgment of the court, stressing “If they joined the public who don’t understand the laws to incite the people against the justices, it undermine the integrity of the court.”
On several occasions, Justice Korkpor has maintained that the break-down of the rule of law was greatly responsible for the country’s 14 years of civil war, and they (justices) will ensure that party litigants get free, fair and transparent justice.
Besides, Chief Justice Korkpor, Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie, whenever she has the opportunity to speak at an occasion, always made similar statement about justices being threatened whenever they passed judgment in any cases.
“Whenever we come out with our judgment, we always received threats from unknown callers, sometimes, in text messages from the party that they have ruled against,” Justice Wolokollie said, confirming Justice Korkpor’s allegation.