-Steps Aside In Sept; who takes on as Liberia’s Next Chief Justice?

MONROVIA-Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor is expected to officially step aside this September as Chief Justice of Liberia as the first man in command of the full bench of the Honorable Supreme Court.

Article 72(b) of the Constitution of Liberia provides that “The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of Subordinate Courts of records shall be retired at the age of seventy (70).

The Chief Justice during his final opening of court as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia announced to the gathering that he will attain the age of 70 on September 5, 2022, which means that upon the next opening of court on the second Monday in October of this year, a new Chief Justice or the Senior Associate Justice will be presiding in keeping with the practice and procedural.

Chief Justice Korkpor is one of the longest-serving employees of the Judicial Branch of government. He served in several positions before his appointment as Chief Justice.

After many years of private law practice, serving mainly as lawyer for the Catholic Church and its affiliate institutions, and human rights advocacy with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission thereafter, Korkpor was first appointed to the Supreme Court Bench in 2004 as Associate Justice, a position he served before his appointment as Chief Justice of the Liberian Supreme Court..

This was during the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) headed by the late Charles Gyude Bryant.

The tenure of the Supreme Court as stated by the Accra Peace Accord (CPA) was two years, thus after two years of service, all five justices of the court resigned to give way to the new democratically elected government headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to appoint justices of the court under a constitutional government.

Justice Korkpor was the only Justice retained and reappointed to the Supreme Court by President Sirleaf.

Said person according to Justice Korkpor will conduct the affairs of the Supreme Court and the judiciary pending the appointment of a Chief Justice by the President of Liberia.

He seizes the opportunity to reflect on some reform programs that he and his colleagues have undertaken to improve condition in the judiciary.

He named the construction of additional judicial complexes in Barclayville, Grand Kru County, Zwedru, Grand Gedeh, Sanniquellie, Nimba, and Tubmanbury, Bomi counties which are in full use and judicial complexes are being constructed in Fishtown, River Gee and Cestos City, River Cess Counties.

A judicial complex is a structure consisting of several courts’ facilities such as the circuit court, debt court, labor court, tax court, revenue court, traffic court, and magistrate court among others. It also has offices for the country attorney, public defender and probation and parole officers.

Korkpor further mentioned the improvement and invigoration of the office of the court administrator with three new sections: inspectorate, public affairs and the project sections created for efficiency and productivity as well as successfully conducted three cycles of the professional magistrate training programs.

“We have established a national jury office at the Temple of Justice with sub-offices in parts of the country; we are working to establish other sub-offices in the entire country in accordance with the new jury law,” he added.

Meanwhile; Liberia’s Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean congratulated the Chief Justice on the announcement of his retirement after 18 years of tireless sacrificial and invaluable services rendered the judiciary as a lawyer, Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

“The Liberia people will remember your commitment and dedication in reforming the judiciary. You left your mark on the history of the judiciary, and long after your retirement, students and lawyers will remember your memorable contributions, not only through the countless opinions you have rendered, which have greatly contributed to the development of our jurisprudence, but also your enormous contributions in resuscitating and reforming the judiciary following our bitter civil war.”

Cllr. Dean furthered: “the numerous initiates you undertook as Associate Justice, following as Chief Justice including support to the James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute ensuring advanced and specialized professional training for magistrates, judges, and judicial employees have transformed the judiciary.

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