Judge Willie Alarms
Judge Roosevelt Willie, the president of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL), said on yesterday that the continued denial by the government to pay retirement pension and benefit to judges has left most of them who have retired to live in abject poverty and disgrace.
Willie, also Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice, delivered his charge yesterday during the opening of Criminal Courts, A, B, C, D and wondered aloud, “It is very disheartening and frustrating for professionals like us to serve our country for all our lifetime and after reaching the retirement age of 70, live in abject poverty and disgrace.”
Willie’s assertion comes just days after another retired Associate Justice Gladys K. Johnson sued the government for refusing to pay her legal and factual pensions and benefits, since August 2016, up to and including the filing date of her Petition of Writ of Mandamus before the Supreme Court.
Mandamus is a “Special proceeding to obtain a writ requiring the respondents to perform an official duty.”
Speaking to his audience that included Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, judges, lawyers as well as party litigants, Willie explained that once a judge was to be retired his or her allowances cease to exist.
“The monthly allowances of US$5,000 for judges and US$2,000 for magistrates and the 135 or 40 gallons of fuel as well as the quarterly scratch cards (GSM) and some funds for entertainment, including vehicles are all cut-off by the government,” the criminal court judge disclosed.
The NATJL president was frank yesterday to inform his audience that judges were receiving Liberian dollar LD$7,500 as monthly retirement benefits, likewise magistrates were taking LD$4,000, which is 50% of their take-home pay.
Explaining the ordeal of some judges, Willie said, Judge William Ware, who was retired few years back, could not live on the LD$7,500 monthly retirement benefit with his family, and because of that stressful situation he died.
“During his period of sickness, it was the association that was catering to his medical bills, even until he died,” the criminal court judge recollected.
He also explained that another retired Judge, Friday Nah of the Debt Court in Sinoe County, has suffered from stroke and, because of the poor retirement benefits, the NATJL was also caring for his welfare.
Besides Nah, Willie said, Judge Amy Musu Jones is also sick and cannot even walk and that the association is also caring for her wellbeing and welfare.
To ensure that judges get their just retirement benefits, Willie told the gathering about their engagement with the Legislative and Executive Branches to see reason to enact the appropriate laws in that direction.
“But, our plight for retirement benefits over the years continue to fall on deaf ears and have yielded no fruitful results,” the criminal court judge declared.