Just over a year after appointing non-lawyers to two key committees within the Judicial Branch of government, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor has acknowledged that those serving on both the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Grievance and Ethics Committee have done exceptional work to restore faith, public trust and confidence in the justice system.
“In order to further ensure judicial transparency and accountability thereby increasing public confidence in the disposition of justice, we determined that it was necessary to include civil society’s representation on the two committees,” the Chief Justice said.
Based upon that, Chief Justice Korkpor said he appointed prominent Liberians from diverse backgrounds, who graciously accepted to serve and are now serving with credit in the Liberian Judiciary.
The Chief Justice made the disclosure last Monday when he delivered his message at the opening of the March 2015 Term of the Supreme Court.
“Doing that required the amendment of the Rules of Court which ,” he said, “limited the membership of the two judicial bodies to only judges and lawyers.”
Accordingly, he recounted, “On November 2013, the Supreme Court issued another Judicial Order #6 authorizing the Chief Justice, in consultation with other members of the Court, to increase the composition of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Grievance and Ethics Committee to a number not in excess of nine for each body, and appoint people from the civil society, who are not lawyers.”
The non-lawyers appointed on the Grievance and Ethic Committee were Attorney Oscar Bloh of the Search for Common Ground, Imam Ali Krayee, acting chief imam of Liberia, Mr. Francis A. Dennis, president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Rev. Keturah York Cooper of the African Methodist Church and A.M.E. University, former Information Minister, Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, Liberian Educator, Sis. Mary Laurene Browne and Kenneth Y. Best, publisher and managing director of the Daily Observer newspaper,.
In his swift intervention, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, president of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), admitted that the Bar had initially opposed the decision to allow non-lawyers to probe lawyers and judges, especially those on the Judicial Inquiry Commission which, he said, circumvented the amendment of the Rules of Court.
“Your Honor, we agree with you that the appointment of non-lawyers was a step in the right direction, because we have worked with them directly and the non-legal guardians are helpful in the dispensation of justice,” he confirmed.