By Melvin Jackson
MONROVIA: The Supreme Court will not hesitate to institute measures to curb, if not eradicate, all forms of dilatory tactics of lawyers bordering on misguided courage, obstruction of enforcement of court’s judgment for the protection of interests. Chief Justice Chief Sie-A –Nyene Yuoh, who made the statement warned that the Court expects full adherence to the principle of law which states that “every court entering a decree retains jurisdiction until its judgment is fully satisfied; and that parties appearing before the courts are required to proceed in strict compliance with the order of the courts.”
The Most High Judge Speaking At the Conference of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) pointed out that the Supreme Court, in summary, prefers that first, strict compliance and satisfaction be accorded its Mandate in terms of enforcement; adding that subsequently lawyers should utilize the relevant provision of the law in seeking remedy for their clients.
Chief Justice Youh Spoke Thursday, February 1, 2024, at the 10th Annual Convention of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia, which was convened on the theme: “The Judicial and Democracy in Liberia: Safeguarding Democratic Values in the Legal System, Especially During and After Elections.” The conference is expected to run for three day from the 1st of February to the 3st respectively.
Chief Justice Youh used the occasion to call on all courts of records deciding ejectment cases to assert their very best in utilizing the technical expertise of the Liberia Land Authority or other licensed land surveyors in consonance with the applicable laws, to first properly identify the property in dispute through an investigative survey before proceeding with a trial.
This, she said, will help to create more awareness of the dispute, get all interested parties involved, and also aid in the enforcement process. After all, it is not ultra vires to have a survey report of the disputed property being made part of the records in an ejectment case, she said
She advised all judicial actors to take judicial notice of an aspect of the recent Annual Message by His Excellency President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr. wherein he criticized the judicial system which is meant to protect the innocent and punish the guilty has been marred by inefficiency, corruption, and lack of public trust.
She quoted the President as calling on the National Legislature to pass legislation and support financial appropriations that will help his administration win the fight against corruption, adding that the statement by the President serves as a challenge to all judicial actors.
To that effect of criticisms of the Court system by President Boakai, Chief Justice Youh called on the Judiciary Branch of the Government, particularly the courts, and keepers of the law, take this statement as a challenge, and decisively demonstrate that we are efficient, non-corruptible and trustworthy in dispensing justice without favor.
“I say that we as the Judiciary Branch of the Government, particularly the courts, and keepers of the law, take this statement as a challenge and decisively demonstrate that we are efficient, non-corruptible and trustworthy in dispensing justice without fear or favor.”
She wants lawyers to demonstrate efficiency, stating that the supreme court of Liberia will not hesitate to institute measures to curb and eradicate all forms of dilatory tactics of lawyers in all instances.
Chief Yuoh, maintained that the court expects full adherence to the principle of the law which states “every court entering a decree maintains jurisdiction until its judgment is fully satisfied.
The Supreme Court of Liberia Chief Justice Yuoh, however, resonated her unwavering stance on the administration of justice in the interest of peace, harmony, stability, economic and viability of the country.
“The time for warning is over, and it’s now time to act; to this end, and in consultation with my esteemed colleagues, I am pleased to announce that the supreme court has constituted a review committee on the revised rule of courts, the code of moral and professional ethics of lawyers and judicial canons as well as our procedural codes, with the end purpose of identifying challenges and shortcomings if any,” she said.
She recalled that during the formal Opening of the March Term A.D. 2023, she spoke to all stakeholders of the electoral process to include political parties, independent candidates, registered voters and the National Elections Commission NEC), when she described the election process as, “.. It is an undeniable fact that our election calendar is the most tumultuous and tedious in the history of the Supreme Court.”
“Hence, even in these quiet moments,” she intimated, “the storms of election cases/challenges are quietly brewing and gathering strength at the National Elections Commission and elsewhere, and have been preparing to dash upon the shore of the Supreme Court’s dockets like a monstrous wave.
But be that as it may, she maintained that the Supreme Court, like a light tower in the midst of a storm, is well fortified and judicially poised to hear and dispose of all and any election disputes regardless of the magnitude or underlying currents.
“We are resolved to dispense justice evenly without fear or favor. The Supreme Court performed this task and duty as mandated by the Constitution and disposed of all elections matters within the time frame of the law,” he assured, saying that in order to safeguard democratic values in the legal system, “I further stated in that address, that “Article 65 of the Constitution vests in the Supreme Court and such subordinate courts as established by the Legislature the judicial power of the Republic.”
The said article, she disclosed, also provides that judgments of the Supreme Court are final and binding and that they shall not be subject to appeal or review by any other branch of Government.
This provision of the Constitution, Chief Justice Youh indicated, has three indispensable features including the judgment of the Supreme Court brings closure and finality to a matter; that the decision is binding on all and sundry including authorities throughout the Republic, and that the decision of the Supreme Court cannot be reviewed by any other authority.
She said the language of the provision of the Constitution is clear and unambiguous, in that the Supreme Court therefore hopes that lawyers representing election party litigants will refrain from misleading their clients, by filing frivolous cases to re-litigate matters already settled by the Supreme Court.
“We say this because the Supreme Court has observed that it has defiantly become the new normal for a segment of the public enticed by misguided courage, obstructing the enforcement of court’s judgment either because the judgment is adverse to their interest or based on their claim that they were not party to the cause out of which the judgment grew,” Chief Justice stressed. .
More disappointingly, Justice Youh said lawyers who ought to be officers of the law also, under a pretext of providing zealous rather than legal representation, take liberty in filing frivolous and unmeritorious petitions, all for the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying the enforcement of courts’ judgment, thus hindering the administration of justice.
She continues as saying that the supreme court have observed that it has defiantly become the new normal for a segment of the public enticed by misguided courage, obstructing the enforcement of court judgment either the judgment is adverse to their interests or base on their claim that they were not party to the cause out of which the judgment grew.
Also speaking during the program as guest speaker, the Senior Partner of the ‘Heritage Partner and Associate’, Cllr Negbalee Warner, said judges are not politicians that should be enslaved in changing olitical dynamics, partisan interest or doing their job with fear.
He however said that the role of judges during and after elections is maintaining a high level of moral conduct and integrity of themselves and demanding the same from administrative staff.
The Heritage Partners and Associates’ Senior Partner also said that the role of judges is to safeguard democracy and the implementation of the rule of law.
Liberian judges comprising the National Association of Trial Judges need not to do anything else other than what they are told to do in safeguarding the democracy, he added.
According to him, to safeguard confidence in the judiciary Liberian, judges need to be efficient in the deposition of cases through personal attention, diligence efforts and time of the judge, clerk, and other ministerial staff’s party litigant and their counselors.