Bar Exam Dux Calls for Establishment of Appeals Court in Liberia

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Tubmanburg – The dux of the 2019 Liberia National Bar Association bar exams, Atty. Urias S. Goll, has called on the top echelons of the Judiciary to establish a Court of Appeals in order to ease the burden on the country’s Supreme Court. 

Urias scored the highest national average on the bar exams and graduated valedictorian of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia. 

Speaking on Monday, May 11 in Tubmanburg, Bomi County during the opening of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, where he was admitted into the local bar as an attorney-of-law, Atty. Goll said the courts have been challenged continually by “the burgeoning local (or global) population and escalation of transgression. “

“An efficient and tenable approach in matching the growing number of transgression is to establish a court of appeal to reduce the pressure on the Supreme Court,” he underscored. 

He said court hierarchies are very important and are an essential part of our jurisprudence. Without it, he furthered, “courts would find it extremely difficult to operate as effectively and efficiently as they presently do.” The court hierarchy provides structure and clarity to the administration of justice, he added.

Digging further, he said the 2017 elections saw the Supreme Court laden with a record number of electoral cases. “With just 12 percent disposition rat of cases at the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of justice with absolute appellate authority in all cases, justice may seem far-fetched,” he said.

 “The need for another layer within our court system is heightened and cannot be overemphasized. The Appeals Court are the sine qua nons and effective antidote for this seemingly incurable disease. 

The denial to the right of appeal, he highlighted, is a denial to justice. Though he did not cite an instance of cases being denied, he, however, said appeal process should not be denied only on the basis of the capacity of the courts to hear the cases. 

“It must not also be granted only as an illusion carved into decent handbill with colorful cover pages stacked into volumes on shelves in law libraries. The appeals, granted to any party, must be taken and resolved. “The Courts of Appeals will ensure that the prevailing challenges are averted or significantly mitigated. It will enhance and promote the dispense of justice and fairness and encourage respect for the court and rule of law.”

Atty. Goll revealed that the Liberian jurisprudence does not forbid the establishment of a Court of Appeals to sit as an intermediate between the circuit and Supreme Court. 

The Court of Appeals, Atty. Goll mentioned, will be seated in the three judicial circuits of the country with a mandate to look into cases emanating from those circuits. 

“Each Court of Appeals will, as a proposal, be presided over by 3 judges, without a jury, each appointed by the President of Liberia based on the recommendation of the Chief Justice.

“There shall be consideration made for female participation and each of the three judges must possess experience and expertise in different areas of the law such as criminal litigation, commercial and contracts, immigration, labor, estates, domestic relations, etc. This is to ensure a fair balance in decision making and review of cases.”

Also speaking during the opening of the courts in Tubmanburg, Associate Justice Sie-A-Yene Yuoh hailed Atty. Goll for scoring the highest average on the bar exam and called on him not to only score in exams but also in his conduct as a newly minted lawyer. She reminded the lawyer that he has followed his steady progress and wished him well. 

She reminded lawyers present for the opening of the court that they are an integral part of the judiciary—arms of the court, as they liked to be called—and it should not be just on the periphery. 

Meanwhile, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, president of the Liberia National Bar Association revealed that Atty. Goll’s call is supporting what the Bar has in the works since the administration of former president and deceased dean of the law school, Cllr. David A.B. Jallah. 

Gboko Stewart is a freelance journalist.

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