By Melvin Jackson
MONROVIA: The 15th Judicial Circuit assigned Judge George Smith says an independent judiciary serves as a fulcrum for citizens to enjoy national economic development and prosperity and therefore urged the incoming Boakai-Koung Administration to prioritize financial assistance to the judicial system.
The River Gee County assigned judge further opined that the Judiciary must be given financial support before the Legislature and Executive and called on the 55th National Legislature to follow the precedence of the United States.
Delivering the judge’s charge at the formal opening of the November Term of Court, Judge Smith, added that an independent judiciary or judicial independence provides judges to freedom do their work impartially as provided by law.
Judges are to administer justice and decide cases impartially without improper and external interference or influence from sources from the legislature or executive.
The circuit court judge maintained that the rule of law is a foundation cornerstone of a peaceful and orderly society wherein individuals adhere to the rule of law in resolving their disputes.
Judge Smith stressed that ultimately, business investments lead to national economic development and prosperity but added that confidence of investors is built on an independent judiciary.
According to Judge Smith, the construction of strong, reliable and durable s buildings are dependent on the strength of their foundations and pillars up to the roofs to support the whole structures of the buildings.
He said that the three branches of government, namely the legislature, executive, and judiciary constitute a three-sided and coordinate triangle with co-equal angles.
Judged Smith further revealed that the Judiciary must be given financial support before the Legislature and Executive as he called on the 55th National Legislature to follow the precedence of the United States.
He said “The left and first side of the triangle represents the Legislature, the first branch of government; while the right and second side of the triangle represents the Executive, the second branch of government; and the third side which is the base and foundation of that triangle is built upon as first and second lines represent the first and second branches of government, meaning the Legislature, and Executive.
He reminded the new administration that the whole nation rest on the foundation of justice which the Judiciary is meant to be for as the third branch of government.
The River Gee assigned judge maintained that the Judiciary must be given full financial support and prioritized over the Legislature and Executive, if Liberia follow the precedence of the United States and other jurisdictions, where financial support to the judiciary is given priority.
“As I have stated in this Charge, from the time the US was established up to now, at no time did the US Government reduce their judges’ salaries; and, whenever inflation reduces the monetary value or purchasing power of salaries of judges and justices, same are adjusted to withstand inflation.
“The US Government, from whence ours is modeled, prioritizes and supports the judiciary financially because this is a prerequisite to judicial independence, judicial impartiality, the rule of law, justice, peaceful and orderly society, friendly business environment for the ease of doing business, business investments, and ultimately national economic development and prosperity.” Judge Smith averred.
Accordingly, the 15th Judicial Circuit court judge lectured the opening session of the courts that the Judiciary sets the stage for building our infrastructures like roads, schools, and hospitals; employment or jobs creation; payment of adequate salaries and benefits to officials of the other branches of government, civil servants, doctors, nurses and all health workers, teachers, the army, police, security, among others; and payment of salaries, goods, and services on time, among other things.
As for the private sector comprising business enterprises, which the Liberian jurist indicated is the highest employer as compared to government, the public sector, it can booms provided there fairness in all aspects of these sectors as should be guided by the judiciary.
“Therefore, the judicial independence’s compensation protection clause which he noted is enshrined in Article 72(a) of the Liberian Constitution has a great economic multiplying effect. This is why from 1789 when the US Federal Government was inaugurated up to the present, even during great economic crises, the dollar amount of federal judges’ salaries had at no time been reduced,” he furthered.
For instance, Judge Smith said during the Great Depression (1929-1939), to balance the national budget, the US Government passed the Appropriation Act of June 30, 1932. “This Act reduced the salaries of Federal Government officials, except for Federal judges whose compensation is constitutionally protected.”
The therefore said to inviolate the judicial compensation protection clause of the Constitution, whenever Federal Judges’ compensation is indirectly diminished by inflation – where the dollar value is diminished – the same is adjusted to counted inflation, he narrated amongst others.