Constitution Blamed for Packed Court Dockets

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In the wake of public criticisms and suspicion about the Supreme Court’s handling of appeal cases on its dockets against rulings of lower courts, one of the five Justices of that court has added her voice to the debate, blaming it on the Constitution.

Associate Justice Sie-A- Nyene Youh, in defense of her argument before lawyers, judges, prospective jurors and court staff at the opening of the May Term of Criminal Courts A, B, C and D, publicly stated that “the establishment of an Appellant Court is the best solution to ensure efficient and effective delivery of justice in the country.”

Justice Youh said that if the Appellant Court were to be accepted, it would enable the Supreme Court justices to pay attention to appeal cases relating to constitutional issues and those of public concern, which the justices would choose to hear for transparency and expediency.

“Right now, it is impossible for us to hear all of the appeal cases from the 15 judicial circuit courts on the dockets for a single court term of six months. Sometimes the cases are more than 200,” said Justice Youh, while explaining the difficulty facing the Supreme Court.

“We are bringing this to your attention so that as we approach the referendum process to review the constitution, you can reflect on the proposition that calls for the establishment of an Appellant Court.”

Reminding her colleagues of the past, Justice Youh said, “Those of us who are historically inclined know that when our Constitution was promulgated, there were about five Judicial Circuit Courts throughout the country, and the five courts were all stationed in Monrovia.”

She said the Constitution provides for five Justices to sit on the Supreme Court bench and hear all appeals from the five Judicial Circuit Courts’ rulings at that time, which she stated makes the five Justices to work more expediently and appropriately to hear appeals emanating from the five Judicial Circuit Courts.

She, however, noted that an additional 14 Judicial Circuit Courts were created by the Constitution, with the Supreme Court still maintaining the same five Justices.

“You know, besides the five Judicial Circuit Courts, an additional 15 Judicial Circuit Courts were created by statute, with no changes made in the Constitution, which still retains the same five Justices mandated to hear every appeal case from the 15 counties,” Justice Youh said.

‘’Can you imagine what the docket of the Supreme Court now looks like?” she asked.

“Again, we just want to inform the public and the National Bar Association (NBA) that we cannot legislate, we can only interpret and say what the law is. It is only the Constitution review process that can solve this matter.”

According to her, the establishment of an Appellant Court would enable the Supreme Court to hear only appeal cases relating to constitutional issues and those of public concern which the justices would choose to hear for transparency and expediency.

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