Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor on Friday admonished incoming associate magistrates of the Professional Magistrates Training Program (PMTP) at the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute (JAAPJI) that judicial integrity is key to effective justice delivery, public trust and credibility.
He said the judiciary is going through a reform process and as such those that would be trained are expected to live up to higher professional and ethical standards.
He said during the war years, old police officers and court clerks were appointed to serve as magistrates and associate magistrates throughout the country.
“This was because there was a lack of lawyers and trained professionals to take care of the courts. To contain this situation, the program was established in 2008 as a way of bringing credibility to the judiciary,” he said.
Chief Justice Korkpor sounded the warning when he spoke at the second launching of Professional Magistrates Training Program (PMTP), which is expected to train 60 associate magistrates, including seven females, for intensive one year training at the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute hosted at the Temple of Justice.
The training was organized with support from partners, including the government of Sweden.
“We want to thank the Judicial Institute and its partners, especially the Swedish government, for exerting efforts to make this second cycle a reality,” Justice Korkpor said.
Encouraging the soon to be associate magistrates, the Chief Justice said, “You have to take your lessons very seriously and perform well so that after your graduation you will be able to help to maintain the credibility of the judiciary.”
In his intervention, Associate Justice Philips A.Z. Banks assured the trainees that the Judicial Institute Board would ensure that the standard set for effective functioning of the institute is maintained and improved.
“I want to announce that upon graduation this class would be decent, professional, impartial and productive,” Justice Banks vowed.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Atty. Moses S. Soribah, acting executive director of the PMPT second cycle, lauded the Chief Justice and the bench for their tireless support for the institute to achieve its objective.
According to him, the institute was established to address the human capacity challenges faced by the judiciary and to stimulate the process of reform of the judicial system, which he said he is prepared to maintain.
Besides the Chief Justice Korkpor bench, the acting director also thanked the government of Sweden and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for “their immense contributions toward the PMPT Phase Two.”
He assured the gathering that the second phase is a clear manifestation that the judiciary in the next coming year would have trained and deployed professional magistrates in urban and rural courts throughout the country.
Giving an overview of the program, Atty. Soribah said in July 2015, the Board of Governors mandated his institute to recruit and vet 60 college graduates.
The one year training covers a wide range of subjects, including Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure Law, Juvenile Law and Procedure, Property Law, Labor Law and the Compilation of the Liberian Statutes.
“The impact of the institute’s work has been visible throughout the country with the activities enumerating here,” the PMTP second phase boss added.
Since the establishment of the James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute in 2008, it has developed several training programs, including the Professional Magistrates Training Program (PMTP).