Response of the President of the Liberian National Bar Association to the Opening Address of His Honor Francis S. Korkpor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia

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Mr. President
Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia
Mr. Speaker and Member of the House of Representatives
Mr. President Pro Tempore and Members of the Senate
Former Chief Justices and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia
The Minister of Justice and Dean of the Supreme Court Bar
The Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Judges of the Circuit Court and Specialized Courts
The President and members of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia
The Vice President and members of the Liberian National Bar Association
The President and members of the Public Defenders Association of Liberia
The President and Members of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia
The President and Members of the Prosecutors Association of Liberia The Court Administrator and Staff of the Judiciary
The Dean, faculty and students of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia
Members of the clergy
The fourth Estate
Other distinguished ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the Liberian National Bar Association, we welcome you from your well-deserved vacation following the closure of the March Term of this Honorable Court.

We thank the Almighty God for those of us who have, thus far, survived the Coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as covid 19. We at the same time express our condolences to the families of our fellow compatriots and those around the world who have succumbed to this dreadful disease.

Similarly, we express our condolences to the families of members of the judiciary who died from other causes during the last term of this Court. May we pause for one moment of silence to the memory of the more than one million people in the world who have lost their lives to Covid 19 and our fallen judicial employees.

 Thank you. May their souls and those of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace and may light perpetual shine upon them. On this note, the LNBA applauds the steps the Supreme Court has taken, thus far, to curtail the spread of the Covid 19 within the courts throughout the Republic of Liberia.

The Court was swift to issue Judicial Order number 8, consistent with the State of Emergency approved by the legislature. We urge judges, lawyers, the clerical and ministerial officers and party-litigants not to let their guards down, but to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and maintain the habit of social distancing, as well as follow any new advice that may be given by public health experts.

Your honors, the Liberian National Bar Association notes with great appreciation, the information that during the last term of court, opinions were delivered and judgments rendered in 40 cases, under very challenging circumstances imposed by Covid 19.

However, the LNBA encourages the court to deliver opinions and judgments in all cases heard by the Supreme Court during each term, even if it means reducing the number of cases heard, in each term, in order to reduce the level of disappointment that lawyers and their clients experience when their cases are heard without any outcome at the end of the term.

It is a natural phenomenon that any gap between expectation and fulfillment leads to disappointment and certainly bears the potential of undermining public trust.

On the issue of the increase in the number of persons that have been trained as associate magistrates, the LNBA lauds the Supreme Court for the progress made in improving the manpower capacity of magistrate courts throughout Liberia to deliver justice at the local government level in cities and townships.

LNBA also applauds the Supreme Court for continuing its judicial scholarship program so that eventually all judicial positions in Liberia from the level of associate magistrates can be occupied only be formally trained lawyers.

The LNBA takes particular note of the assurance given by the Court to “ all Liberians, political parties and associations or organization that during the ensuing Senatorial and all other elections that shall take place in our country, this Court will continue to be fair in its actions and decisions’ and that ‘In deciding election or other cases, this Court has no friend or foe and proceeds without fear or favor regardless of what or who is involved.”

While members of the Liberian National Bar Association are hopeful that these assurances will be concretized by the orders and judgments of this Court in the next two months, it goes without saying that this Court has no other option, but to be fair and impartial in all cases, and to handle cases involving the sanctity of the electoral process in Liberia with the utmost care.

Here are the reasons for the position of the bar on this issue. First, Article 20a) of the Constitution of Liberia assures the people of Liberia that under the Judiciary system of Liberia, “Justice shall be done without sale, denial or delay”.

The Supreme has further interpreted this phrase to also mean that justice must be done without fear or favor as the Chief Justice reiterated a few minutes ago. It is logical to conclude that this means that no influence either by power or money should determine the outcome of any order or judgment of this court.

Second, it is important to note that for the elected and appointed officials of the three branches of government in Liberia, it is only for members of the judiciary that the Constitution of Liberia made “good moral character” as one of the qualifications for appointment. In order to be a justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Article 68a provides as a qualification that the appointee be “a citizen of Liberia and of good moral character”.

Article 69a mandates the same for judges of subordinate courts of record.” The requirement of good moral character is not required under article 52 of the Constitution as a qualification for the presidency; neither is it required under article 30 of the Constitution for members of the legislature.

It is merely presumed that office-holders in the Legislative and Executive Branches of our government should be persons with “good moral character”, but not specifically mandated by any provision of the Constitution. This makes the judiciary unique in its importance in our system of government.

Third, this court must take judicial notice of the historical fact that all threats to constitutional and orderly governance of Liberia have been negatively impacted by electoral disputes beginning in 1871 during the regime of President Edward James Roye, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Over the differences of opinion over the result of a referendum on the extension of the term of office and the time for holding the next presidential election, President Roye was violently overthrown and the first interim government of Liberia established in 1971.

In 1927, the election that brought President Charles D. B. King to office for the second term was rated as the most rigged election in the world and still remains unsurpassed, according to the Guinness Book Record.

History shows that although there were less than15,000 registered voters in that election, Mr. King of the ruling True Whig Party was declared to have won the presidential election by  243,000 votes, compared to 9,000 votes for his opponent T. J. R. Faulkner of the People’s Party.

 As a consequence of the national crisis that was created out of that fraudulent election and the report of the Commission of Inquiry of the League of Nations based on a complaint of the losing candidate, Faulkner, that King and his Vice President were involved in the sale of slave labor to a Spanish Plantation Company located on the Spanish Island of Fernando Po, Mr. King and his Vice President were forced to resign from their offices.

In the early 1950s, a crisis developed over the failure of the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County to probate the articles of association of the United Peoples’ Party, later named the Reformation Party (RP).

This crisis eventually led to the arrest and imprisonment of opposition political leaders on the charge of sedition and the escape of  D. Twe, the presumptive presidential candidate of the RP into exile in Sierra Leone.

In 1985, the counting of the ballots by a fifty person committee, established, not based on any provision of the 1986 Constitution, the existing elections law or any statute, undermined public confidence in the Special Elections Commission (SECOM) and a public rejection of the election result by most Liberians.

The mass disenchantment created by this rejection led to multiple rebellious actions and the government’s reaction that culminated in a full-scale armed civil conflict. The negative effects of the 1989 civil conflict growing out of a fraudulent election have not yet been overcome.

Monrovia, our capital city, for example, has not yet reached its prewar electricity and water supply levels; the Ganta-Harper highway which was under construction prior to the conflict has not resumed; many elementary, junior high and high schools that were closed by the civil conflict have not been reopened.

Ellen Mills Scaborro, Monrovia Central High, Bassa Teen Age School and GAS School, amongst many schools, do not exist anymore. Yet the school-going population in Monrovia has tremendously increased. Above all, most estimates have put the number of persons that died as a result of the conflict to 250,000 persons.

It is against this background that the LNBA says that this Court has no other option but to do justice without sale, delay, fear or favor. This is the only way to restore the required public confidence in the Judiciary and to strengthen peace and stability in Liberia.

One another issue that is equally important to the integrity of the Court is how some members of the public misunderstand how the Supreme Court makes judgments. Let it be known that no justice of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice alone, should be blamed or praised for any decision of the Supreme Court.

Except for a Justice sitting in Chambers, it takes a minimum of three justices of the Supreme to make any decision for the Supreme Court. It is a well-known fact that at least one Chief Justice was killed and an associate justice impeached based on the misunderstanding of how the court works.

It is therefore wrong to blame a chief justice or any associate justice of the Supreme Court for a decision of the Court. The LNBA calls upon all Liberians to take this explanation into consideration in their assessment of the Court’s performance.

We pray that God will give this Court the required moral courage and strength to live up to the assurances given the Liberian people today so that during the entire period of the mid-term Senatorial election when the court makes a decision on any electoral dispute, the losing party or candidate can say to his or her supporters in the words of former United States Presidential candidate Al Gore, “The Court has spoken”.

With these few words, we wish your honors good health and pray that in the supreme interest of sustaining peace, progress and sustainable economic growth and prosperity in Liberia, each and all of you will defend the independence of this Court even if a bullet is placed to your breasts. God Bless the Court

14 COMMENTS

  1. Cllr. Gongloe,

    I extend my warm greetings to you this day. Really, I am falling in love with you for your objectivity, pragmatism, clairvoyance and patriotism.
    Bring confidence in our justice system. We study history to avoid the errors of the past, so, never relent in reminding your colleagues of the tumultuous roads the country has traveled thus far.

    Honorable Counselor, allow me to submit a petition to your attention: I need you in our senate in 2023 under the umbrella of the ANC, please think about the heartfelt request of your little brother!

  2. By His grace, within a period of two years, I will form a party in Liberia. The name of my party will be called Actual Numbers Count-2 party, or ANC-2! If I could get hold of Gongloe, I’d urge him to be the Director General of my party.

    Some might ask, “What does the number “2” stand for? Response: It stands for “second power”! Thus, Actual Numbers Count-2……ANC-2.

    Because George Weah will seek re-election, I will not run to become president. Let it be known that the ANC-2 party is not…. and will never associate itself with the weak and disorganized opposition leaders such as the regular politicians that you know all too well.

    Talking Points:
    – An affordable Tax plan will be presented,
    – An Economic Development Plan will be presented,
    – A 24-hour Electricity and Running Water plan will be presented,
    – A unique overhaul of the Educational System will be proposed,
    – A proposal to improve the Criminal Justice System of Liberia will be presented and
    -. A committee to award scholarships to the youth of Liberia will be established.

    Things I will not say or do:
    – I will not make promises regarding how many jobs I will create. Why? Because I am not a Socialist or a Communist. I will work with the private sector in order for jobs to be created and
    – I will never allow an overt homosexual activity in the Republic of Liberia. There will be no dealings with any foreign entity or individuals who show concern/sympathy for homosexuality. Why? Homosexuality is an abomination!

    My Advisory Board will comprise a total of 30 qualified men and women. In other words, I will appoint a qualified man and woman from each of the 15 counties of Liberia. Why? I believe in equality!
    More To Come.
    Peace

  3. Thanks, Cllr. Gongloe fpr this historical reflection to our Honorable Supreme Court and the general public. Surely, the public does not understand the workings of the judiciary in Liberia, but it becomes the sole responsibility of the court to create the awareness amongst stakeholders, about the kind of work they do.

    Judges of courts are human being foremost and Liberian citizens, they cannot continued to fully abide by their ethics of not engaging with the public for whom they work. It is even surprising that people with Ph.D. in this society does not understand the working of the court, let alone people who graduated from Law School, but chose to work in administrative jobs, also do not know very much about the workings of the courts; because the working of the courts starts with the different procedures in the laws, and then the law is applied; that is the reason politicians try to muzzle the court because they do not understand it, and are doing all in their powers to have it under their control.

  4. “Never allow overt homosexual relationship in Liberia”:
    I may consider joining your party just because of this point. However, I will advise you out of 30 advisors from each county. I would rather advise you into surrounding yourself with Liberian technocrats and think tanks to define customized development policies in every sector in Liberia.

    If you agree with the points I have made above, why form ANC-2? Just join the current ANC embedded with all these attributes and virtues.
    It would be a waste of time and energy in forming another ANC where you will not be able to rally 1% of the electorates.

    The ANC, as well as its leadership, is morally clean, believe me Grand Frere!
    I will never support immorality neither buy in to corruption, or else I could have been in Liberia working for government, believe me!

  5. Cllr Gongloe is the breed of people we expected on our Supreme Court bench since Ellen’s time. Instead, he has been shunned by especially the Weah administration since he was minister in the Ellen administration for this opportunity. But as they say, “everything has time.” Perhaps it was even predestined and prevenient for Cllr Gongloe not to serve with the batch of “dwazed” or “gbelleh” we are currently cursed with as our justices. With God, all things are possible, so hang in there Cllr. Gongloe, for justice can be delayed, but it never be denied!

  6. Mr. ANC Conservative,
    With all due respect, I do not agree with the issues you have raised. Secondly, my ANC-2 is up to the 2nd power. It is in no way connected to yours because of its superiority!

    As Maryland county goes, so the rest of the country goes. Garnering one percent of the Liberian electorate is something that can easily be accomplished in Pleebo, Maryland county. The rest of the county will be a piece of cake!

    The purpose of the 30 advisors is simple, but realistic. The county advisors will tell me what they need in their respective counties. The vital information the advisors share will be discussed with my cabinet ministers. Vroom. There goes local development. The current ANC is in the dark ages.

    Brief American Presidential News:
    It’s been reported that the Democrats are cautiously becoming optimistic about their chances next week! The poll results are firm. In the Red States, Biden leads by small margins, but, your buddy is having headaches.

    Alexander Benedict Cummings is tagged with Trump. Trump will lose! Since that is the case, your dark age leader will lose. Remember, Weah is tagged with Biden. 😝😛🤪😜

  7. It is quite disingenuous, if not dishonest, for Cllr. Gongloe, the presumptive sage of Nimba County, to claim or imply that the late President Samuel Doe (a valiant son of Grand Gedeh County) was the cause of Liberia’s descent into a terrible anarchy when he robbed Gongloe’s Nimba kinsman Jackson Doe of the Liberian presidency in the election of 1985.

    Says he, this resulted in “..a public rejection of the election result by MOST LIBERIANS (emphasis mine) which “mass disenchantment” led to the creation of “multiple rebellious actions and the government’s reaction that culminated in a full-scale armed civil conflict.” Gongloe then rushes to conclude that “The negative effects of the 1989 civil conflict growing out of a fraudulent election have not yet been overcome.”

    What a convoluted stretch! Blaming Samuel Doe for the mess that Liberia has become today? Well, even forgetting Tubman, Tolbert, and the many other political hacks of years past, why would Gongloe completely disregard the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? The learned Counsellor should put on his spectacles and clearly behold the greedy evil killers and looters who destroye Liberia with impunity.

  8. Always learn to tackle problems from the root causes, and not within the ramifications. That’s why we should always learn to prevent by respecting and abiding by set rules instead of always wasting precious time to cure with pawns being the interlocutors!

    Grand Frere Hney,

    You see, like all CDCians and sympathizers of the CDC plague, you have no objective plans for Liberia.
    How will you surround yourself with 30 advisors from each county who would tell you what to do? With such idea, you will NOT even earn 0.5% of the Liberian electorates. I can even beat you in your Pleebo if you propose such platform to the people. If you think I am joking, take my beat for the 2023 elections.
    If this is your idea or that which you want to bring to the table within the CDC, then advocate for a decentralized system where each county will operate like an independent state with a governor. In fact, with the current political trend, I prefer such system to enact a quick developmental catalyst for Liberia.

    Look at what is happening with electricity imported from the Ivory Coast. Instead of our LEC taking it over to distribute in the leeward counties with a harmonized national tariffication, they have left it with a dodgy operator with no experience and adequate financial resources. Why? This also should be a FIX!

    Comrade Hney, you wrote here that you also studied history. Revisit your history lessons of how nation-states developed in the world. The central government has to provide the catalysts and then local development can unravel “vroom”! not the other way around.
    The catalysts are good education facilities for all, stable and high grid electricity (hydro dams or nuclear plants), extensive telecommunications infrastructure across the country, etc. then before local developments can go “vroom”.

    I hope you guys can come to intellectual debates to convince Liberians on what you can do. The ongoing campaign in Liberia is sickening. People go from villages to towns to distribute a little of what they have stolen from the people. What are they proposing? They make human sacrifices to conjure the spirits of people to vote them, where do they expect to see Liberia?
    Against this background, I would propose that the NEC set up a special commission on debate for people vying for public offices in Liberia. The people of Liberia must decide based on what the candidates are proposing.

    If you can tag Alexander B. Cummings to Donald Trump, then I will begin to rejoice that Liberia is heading in the right direction come 2024.
    Donald Trump is an anointed leader chosen by God the Father, the Maker of heaven and earth.
    In the Bible, God’s chosen leaders – Solomon, David, etc. – were human beings and so they all had some shortcomings. Donald Trump has shortcomings, yet God is pleased with him. We see agitations here and there to remove him from office even during campaign period, why? They know they cannot win against God’s plan for a nation and people.

    My guy Trump is winning, and bigly too!

  9. Mr. ANC Lobbyist,
    I have never said that I majored in History. On the issue of racism in Germany before and during the second World War, I urged you to read something about Rhineland Bastards. Black people were referred to as Rhineland Bastards by the Germans before and during Nazism. I made a suggestion, but I didn’t say that I majored in History.

    The Thirty Advisors:
    During my campaign, my thirty advisors will be very helpful. After the campaign season, still the thirty advisors will play a vital role in reshaping the country. When my presidency begins, some of those advisors will serve in the cabinet and other sensitive areas. Please do not steal my plan. Every man and woman knows that your ANC is politically bankrupt with the best of progressive ideas.

    I know a lot of Nimbaians. A good number of them are my best friends. The Nimbaians that I know are genuine. They prefer to listen to me than your guy who was rebuffed recently in the county of Nimba. I withhold their names because I don’t want to expose myself until my engine heats up.

    American Presidential News…..
    There are two contested states that could spell disaster for Trump: Florida and Pennsylvania. Trump could win Florida, but if he doesn’t win Michigan and Wisconsin, he will lose. On the other hand, Biden could lose Florida, but he stands a chance to win Pennsylvania. Biden was born in Pennsylvania; the state is a home court advantage for him.

    The traditional Red States of Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and to a lesser extent, Iowa are also contentious, don’t leave out Texas. Again, Biden could lose in Florida, but he’s very competitive (with a slight edge) in Arizona, North Carolina and Iowa. The race is getting tighter, but Trump is down by a few percentage points. There four days left. Someone in Washington is shaking.

    Hang in there.

  10. The following states have already be called for Trump:
    Texas, Florida, North Corallina, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania is being tackled and will surely remain red.

    Je te donne rendez-vous au soir du 3 novembre, Grand Frère !

  11. Mon petite Frere,

    J’ espe’re que ta journ’ee se passera bien. Je suis tre’s moment. Si Dieu le veut, je vous.

    Contacterai ce door. Bon journ’ee

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