Judge Zlahn is Dead

5 days after admitting that some Judges are corrupt

The late Johannes Zogbay Zlahn often frowned on his colleagues for accepting bribes.

Wailings and grief described the scene at the Temple of Justice yesterday when it was announced that the judge of Civil Law Court B – an annex to the main Civil Law Court, Johannes Zogbay Zlahn, had died.

Judge Zlahn’s death came exactly five days after he confirmed the 2016 U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Report that judges in the country are corrupt because they accept bribes to award damages in civil cases.

Judge Zlahn, 61, died on Saturday, March 25, at his Zayzay Community residence in Soul Clinic, Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

According to family sources, Judge Zlahn passed away while resting in his bedroom before he was due to return to the court by 12 noon on Saturday.

“He came out of his room that morning and later went back to rest before going to court.

But when his daughter went back to the room to wake him up, she noticed that her father had died,” the family said.

The family said through a female member that when they took him to the hospital afterward, the hospital authorities pronounced him dead upon arrival.
Judge Zlahn joined the judiciary in 2013 when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed him as a judge. He was subsequently confirmed by the Senate as relieving judge.

The cause of Judge Zlahn’s death had not been established up to press time last night. Meanwhile, many lawyers and other court staff described him as a “fearless, no nonsense judge.”

Zlahn was the first judge of the newly created Civil Law Court B annex of the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

In his acknowledgement of the U.S. State Department report, Judge Zlahn advised his colleagues not to allow sympathy or relationships with a particular lawyer or individual lead them down a path of self-destruction or disgrace, “because at the end the day, the lawyers or individuals in whose interests we act will abandon us while we linger in shame and disgrace.”

Zlahn’s statement was made on Monday, March 20, the day the U.S. State Department released it corruption report about Liberia’s justice and legal system.
The report claimed that corruption in Liberia persists in the legal system to the extent that some judges accept bribes to award damages in civil cases.

“Judges sometimes solicit bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases.

“Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, jurors. Correction officers sometimes demanded payment to escort detainees to trial,” the report indicated.
Further to his statement, the late Judge Zlahn agreed that most often the decisions of judges are influenced by bribery.

Zogbay Zlahn added: “We as judges have allowed our fraternal relationships and love for our brothers and sisters who are lawyers to influence our decisions, an act which has invariably led to various disciplinary actions being taken against us.”

“The death of Judge Zlahn is a serious blow to the judiciary because most of his utterances were intended to restore the integrity of the courts. His recent statements sent a strong warning about the behavior of lawyers towards access to justice,” said Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe.


  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.


  1. It seems, though, Judge Zlahn was a judge of high caliber, one who calls it as he sees it. May his soul rest in perfect peace! My deepest condolences to the family…

    The question we ought to ask ourselves is what next? Should we now lay him to rest and move on…, or should we pick up where he left off and continue this legacy? I noticed he is respected and admired by his peers, describing him as “fearless, no nonsense judge.” But, he was doing exactly what they were appointed to do, bring some sense of integrity and justice to our judicial system. So, I think the best way to honor this falling hero is not just describing his disdain for everything that is wrong with our judicial system, but to pick up where he left off; making sure the justice system work for all, regardless. If we can do this, I truly believe he will smile that his fight was not in vain…! Again, may his soul rest in peace!

  2. The only comment is “woow, what a coincidence “. Jus criticism of the Liberian judicial system and than he left in His sleep. Wooow, life is very precious for it to varnish like that.
    Rest in peace, because you did what you could.

  3. The fight against corruption has suffered a serious set back, and Liberia has lost a great general. The judge’s demise happened at a critical time when we need someone from within to keep the ‘system’ straight. His death is a big blow to all Liberians who believe in transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

    Zlahn, your legacy will live on. We pray that God sends a disciple after you. Rest in peace.

  4. if your departure from this world is caused by any one ,their conscience will not let them in peace. They will be like juda who hang himself. Go and rest in peace, u did well for Liberia. But that how country is from day 1.they are in witchcraft they don’t like fair system.

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