As New Court Term Begins, 9th Circuit Judge is Absent

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GBARNGA, Bong – The Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga opened on Monday for the May term in the absence of the assigned judge.

Judge James Gilayeneh is said to be in the United States and may return Friday or Saturday this week to take his assignment.

Not only was the assigned judge absent, but a majority of the members of  Bong County Local Bar Association and some magistrates were also not present to answer to their names during the roll call.

Even though this is not the first time for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court to open in the absence of an assign judge; the acting clerk of the court, Daniel Porlonkollie, and the national program officer of the Foundation for International Dignity, Aaron Juakollie, said it has not happened in recent memory.

Daniel Porlonkollie and Aaron Juakollie told The Bush Chicken that this is the first time in few years for the court to officially open in the absence of the judge.

It is not yet clear what the penalty is for a judge who is absent at a court’s opening, however, for members of the Bong County Local Bar Association, the fine is US$100.

Bong’s County Attorney E. Wilkins Nah noted that the court would ensure that justice is equally served to everyone in the county.

He called on citizens to channel their grievances through the court system if peace is to be preserved in the county.

“We are saying once more that we are grateful for believing in the court system because we feel that justice should be served through the court system and not through self-help. In Bong County, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court will make sure that your grievances are channeled through the court; and we can assure you that you will get justice done,” Nah said.

Nah also informed jurors that the service of a jury is a national civic duty and not for money making.

He challenged jurors to be professional and truthful in the discharge of their duties to the court and those they serve.

Nah said the court would arrest, charge, and prosecute any juror caught in acts found to be counterproductive to the discharge of jury duties.

New graduates of the law school, Alieu M. Bility, Martin J.S. Corlon and J. Quiwoe Dennis. Photo: Moses Bailey

New graduates of the law school, Alieu M. Bility, Martin J.S. Corlon and J. Quiwoe Dennis. Photo: Moses Bailey

Meanwhile three new graduates of the LouisArthur Grimes School of Law could not be admitted to the local bar association as a result of the absence of the assigned judge at the court’s opening.

The president of the Bong County Local Bar Association, George Sagbeh, who declined to make what he calls “the normal remarks,” only introduced the three men in rather brief comments.

Sagbeh named the three as Alieu M. Bility, Martin J. S. Corlon, and J. Quiwoe Dennis.

Family members and friends of the three had gathered in court to witness the admittance ceremony but were surprised at the absence of the judge

In remarks at the court’s opening, the chairperson of the Bong County Legislative Caucus, Representative George Mulbah, lauded the county’s local bar association for weeding out apprentice legal practitioners from the bar.

The Bong County Local Bar Association is the umbrella organization for lawyers hailing from the county.

Mulbah said it is legally risky to have people practicing law in court and rendering verdicts in crucial cases involving citizens without proper legal credentials.

“I am impressed by the action of the Bong County Bar to clear the bar off people who do not have legal training. And that action by the local bar, now has clearly redeemed our people that have over the years been victimized by mere guesting,” Mulbah said.

Mulbah hailed the Judiciary branch of government for rotating county attorneys in the country, but further recommended that the same be done for magistrates.

He said when a particular magistrate stays for a long time in one environment, there is a tendency for that magistrate to claim undue powers.

Mulbah recommitted the support of his legislative caucus to working with the justice system in the county to dispense justice to citizens.

He said the county’s legislative caucus was already instrumental in creating additional magisterial areas in Salala, Gbartala, Foequelleh, and Zoewinta within the county to help improve access to justice in the county.

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia awarded him with the Human Rights Reporter award. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Aside from his work in the media, Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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