Monday, April 16, 2012

Cases Overflow Courts’ Dockets

Judge Blamo Dixon Asserts; Suggest ways forward The Judge of Criminal Court “C”, A. Judge Blamo Dixon, last Tuesday disclosed that the docket of the court is loaded with about 300 cases that are yet to be heard. Such overwhelming number of unheard cases according to Judge Dixon could be due to the fact that the court spends a whole term or pratically two terms hearing a single case while parties in the other cases continue to run around to have their cases heard. “This court and Civil Law Court their dockets are crowded. We have almost 300 cases on the court “C” docket. People are going up and down to hear their cases. We only spend a whole term or practically two terms of court on just one case. And all the other cases are ‘put on ice’”, Judge Dixon said. The Court “C” judge has been talking with some lawyers about ideas that could significantly reduce the amount of cases on the courts’ dockets. “I have talk to one or two lawyers regarding jury term or the jury section suggesting that the number of days be increased or we can have two terms of court like criminal court “E” which has six months first term and six months second term,” he said. Judge Dixon said there could also be a strategy in which judges will still rotate at the will and pleasure of the Chief Justice but courts would only open once or twice a year instead of having the courts closing and opening four times a year. “Maybe we could only open court one or two times a year. Instead of having the court open for February term and after 42 days we open court for May term; after 42 days we open court for August term and another 42 days we open for November term”, he averred. The Court “C” judge also suggested that there should be amendments made in the Rule of Court which prohibits a judge from hearing two jury cases at the same time in the interest of the Liberian people because such could increase the number of cases being heard in a single court term. “I also suggested that the rule of court prohibits a judge from holding two jury sections at the same time. This is what the rule of court says, but adjustment could be made in the interest of our people to have judge hold two jury sections at the same time when that rule is amended,” he said. He urged those in authority of the Judicial Circle of the Republic to see how best they can manifest such ideas into reality. Judge Dixon made the above comments when he announced the closure of the February Term of court in the edifice of the Criminal Court “C” where the Jury Trial for the Liberia Coca Cola Bottling Company’s (LCCBC) US$1.8M fraud case is being heard. Though the jury section of the February term of court has come to a close, Judge Dixon said that the case would continue in the chambers of court as to have it concluded and the sequestrated jury hearing the case disbanded. He acknowledged the effort of the jury to sit through court trials and help the court come up with its verdicts in cases. Also speaking at the close of the Jury section for the February term of court was Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Augustine C. Fiayiah, who urged the jurors to be sincere in carrying out their task. He told the jurors present in court that if the civil society accuse the justice system of being corrupt, such accusation reflicted back to the public because the jurors where from the civil society. Another speaker, Atty. Arthur Johnson, a Public Defender of Monstserrado County highlighted the sacrifice that the jurors make to sit in the court on cases. He believed that they were not sitting in court for the US$6 per day that they receive but rathet to ensure that justice is served to those who deserve it. In closing Cllr. Theophileous C. Gould, President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), promised the Judge that the association will work to see how it could help make the idea of adjusting the term and rule of court a reality.

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