Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie at Tuesday’s opening of May 2018 Term of Criminal Courts (A, B, C, D, and E), could not hold back her disappointment with the judiciary when she admitted being frustrated about how some of the judges were “poorly” dispensing justice.
“You will be disappointed to notice how unimaginable is the attitude of some of the judges toward dispensing cases. What is the problem? Why is this happening?” Justice Wolokollie expressed her outburst. “We thought that you come to this profession with passion, but many of you come to the legal practice just to enrich yourselves at the expense of the innocent masses or just to make fun of those bringing cases before the court.”
Justice Wolokollie reminded her audience, mostly judges and lawyers, that the legal profession should neither be seen as a means to get rich nor to make fun of, “because you are dealing with people’s rights and lives.
“Your attitude is not sending the positive signal out there about the judiciary; but to do so, you must be able to check and balance yourself, to know whether you actually love and commit to this profession,” Justice Wolokollie admonished.
According to her, since 2010, judges’ behavior in handling cases continues to make the judiciary ineffective and inefficient, undermining access to justice.
“Look at the last eight years of the judiciary and see whether there has been some improvement. We have had international partners working with us to improve the justice delivery system, we have had conferences for judges, the question is, why are we in the same state as 2010?”
She said to make the judiciary more effective it means every judge should play his or her part.
“Are we being committed to play our part, to make the judiciary effective, because some of us just refuse to be committed. Whenever we put a system in place, it just stays for a while and it goes back to square one, and we have to change it — that is frustrating,” Wolokollie said.
“When stories come to us about you judges they are just unimaginable. What is the problem? What is happening?”
According to the justice, they were considering a cut in the salary of non-performing judges.
“We are going to have a merit system when it comes to the salary issue, because you can’t sit in a court doing nothing and expect to get the same pay as those who are working very hard to improve the image of the judiciary; that will not happen; if you desire equal salary, then you must work like other judges,” Wolokollie stated.
“We, justices, are working day and night to make the judiciary proud, while you are sitting there doing nothing at all and want to make a good salary. Your salary will be commensurate with your work,” she added.
Earlier, Judge Sikajibo Wollor of Criminal Court ‘D’ reminded his colleagues that the ordinary people take cognizance (notice, insight) of the judicial system as a viable tool to solving disputes and for the avoidance of extrajudicial means for the attainment of desired ends.
“Providing access to justice should be our binding duty whether to a citizen or not. Once it is within our borders, we are duly bound to provide those means,” Judge Wollor said.