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Liberia: Opening the Supreme Court with Salary Cut Dilemma

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Monrovia – Legal luminaries, party litigants, partners of the Justice System and officials of government will on Monday, October 14, at starting at 10 a.m. witness the second opening ceremony of the Supreme Court under the George Weah-led Administration.

Unlike the lower circuit courts, which operate by law with four terms, February, May, August and November respectively, the high court has two terms yearly March and October 

Last August 2019, the Supreme Court closed its March 2019 Term after hearing series of cases of appeal from the lower courts from Montserrado County and various other circuit courts in the country with Associate Justice Yussif Kaba been appointed to preside as Justice-In-Chamber replacing Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe to hear cases and make determination as Chamber-in-Justice while the court is closed.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, at the close of the March 2019 Term of Court ordered the high court Clerk Atty. Sam Mamulu to communicate with the Legislature and Executive Branches of Government about its closure to resume in October 2019.

The opening of the high court is expected to be attended by special guests, including the President, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and President-Pro- Tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie.

All throughout the President’s three attendances at the opening of the high court, the President has not made any official statement in that gathering despite the invitation that is always extended to him by Chief Justice Korkpor to speak whenever he attends the opening of the high court.

Concerning some of tomorrow’s activities, a source within the Judiciary, who spoke to this newspaper on the basis of anonymity, stated Monday opening will take place amid series of closed door discussions between Chief Justice Korkpor and judges from the various circuit courts in the country over salary cuts for judges.

Though the Judiciary has not given any special statement on this matter, some legal practitioners predicts that the issue of Judges salary cut is paramount based on its grave consequences therefore it is expected to be included in the charge/speech of the Chief Justice, which will be delivered to declare the October Term of Court opened. 

“As you are aware, judges are forbidden to engage in any form of business. Their only means of survival is their salaries. This needs to be addressed, adequately,” said the source who claimed that the judges are not happy over the salary cut.

Salary cut commonly known now as “harmonization” was introduced early this year in the public sector by the Weah-led government as a means of tackling salary disparities in the public sector with the Judiciary becoming the latest area of concentration.

However, in the wake of the current financial constraint facing the Judiciary, Chief Justice Korkpor had openly admitted that there will be no rotation of judges from one court to another in the country as of August 2019.

 The Chief Justice said this during program marking the official opening of the August 2019 Term of Circuits, A, B, C, D & E at the Temple Justice.

“Let me say that during this August Term of Court, all judges will remain in their various circuits of assignment because there is no fund to rotate judges because when judges are rotated, they need allowance,” said Chief Justice Korkpor.

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