Liberia’s Supreme Court claims
Days after the United States of America Treasury Department declared that Counsellor Varney Sherman, Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, offered bribes to multiple judges that were associated with the 2010 alleged bribery case, as reported by Global Witness, the Liberian Supreme Court has reacted strongly to the grave accusation against the Judicial Branch of the Government.
According to a press release dated January 19, 2021, and signed by Attorney Darryl Ambrose Nmah, the court will never allow or condone the act of any lawyer, party litigant, or whosoever desiring to exercise influence over judges of the Judiciary.
The court further explained that the information contained in the US Treasury Department’s statement, without more details, “is insufficient to serve as a basis for Sanction against the referenced judicial actors.
According to the release, in all cases before appropriate sanctions are applied, a formal complaint is filed, the accused judicial actor is furnished with a copy, an investigation is conducted by the body responsible, and hearings are conducted by the Supreme Court concerning recommendations from its judicial Inquiry Commission and the Grievance and Ethics Committee.
“This is an essential requirement to accord the cardinal principle of due process. But, in the instant case, the information contained in the US Treasury department is insufficient to serve as a basis for sanction against Cllr. Sherman and the named judges,” the Supreme Court said.
The US report also claimed that the bribery scheme had an undisclosed conflict of interest with the judge who ultimately returned a ‘not guilty’ verdict in Cllr Sherman’s favor in 2019.
Judge Peter Gbeneweleh is the person who acquitted Cllr. Sherman at Criminal Court ‘C’, prior to the US action against Sherman.
The US statement also said Sherman has routinely paid judges to decide cases in his favor and that his alleged act of bribery demonstrates a larger pattern of behavior to exercise influence over the Liberian Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice.
But the Supreme Court said the statement casts serious doubt and aspersion not only on the integrity and credibility of Cllr. Sherman and the judges alluded therein, but also on the Liberian Judiciary as an institution responsible for the fair and impartial hearing and disposition of cases.
“The statement is of outmost concern to the Judiciary,” the release added.
The court said they have withheld comments and reactions to have consultations with the US Embassy near Monrovia for the benefit of receiving more information on the matter.
Following these consultations, the release said, “the Judiciary wishes to make it emphatically clear that as an institution, it has zero tolerance on bribery and all other forms of corrupt practices.”
It further said, “the Judiciary renews its commitment to the fight against corruption in the country’s judicial system and will continue to collaborate with friendly governments and the international organizations including the American Bar Association, to curb practices of corruption. We call on all persons, citizens and foreign nationals in and out of Liberia with knowledge of the issue raised in the Treasury Department’s statement, or with any other ethical transgression committed by judges and lawyers, to report same to the office of the Chief Justice for appropriate actions.”