The ceremony marking the official opening of the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Zwedru for the November Term of Court took place Monday without a Judge presiding as is customary.
Judge George S. Wiles Jr. has been assigned for this term of court.
However, the County Attorney and other senior justice actors were present at the ceremony presided over by the Court Administrator, Badio Quiah.
There are ten criminal cases and one civil case on the court’s docket.
Attorney T. Waylee, who spoke on behalf of the local bar association, expressed disappointment over the detention of many persons at the Zwedru Central Prison without indictment, a situation which, he noted, was unprecedented in the dispensation of transparent justice.
In a related development, reports speak of the shortage of judges in four specialized courts, including the debt, tax and provisional probate courts, in Gbarzon and Konobo Statutory Districts.
This, according to the reports, is caused by death and illness, and remains a challenge in the judicial system.
According to records reviewed by the Liberia News Agency correspondent, four magisterial courts in the county are without stipendiary magistrates.
In a related development, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Francis S. Korkpor, has vowed to institute stern punishment against individuals who are imposing as lawyers at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
“When you are not a law school graduate or lawyer to practice before the court do not go there,” Korkpor warned.
The statement from the Chief Justice comes amidst the arrest of some individuals who are in the habit of impersonating as legal practitioners, extorting money from clients and business entities seeking legal representation.
“We’ve noticed that there are people purporting to be lawyers, and representing people in court. Don’t do that because if you are caught you will be punished,” the Chief Justice stressed.
Korkpor added: “If you are not a lawyer, stop entering our court system, and stop taking money from party litigants when in fact you are not lawyer or a law school graduate who is to practice before the court.”
The Chief Justice sounded the warning on Monday at the joint formal opening of the November Term of Criminal Courts “A” “B” “C” “D”& “E”.
Korkpor also stated that the rate of pre-trial detainees at the Monrovia Central Prison is alarming, urging magistrates to desist from detaining people who are not criminal defendants.
The Chief Justice said when prosecutors do not have any evidence in a case they should not delay the court’s time.
He asserted that illegal detention is causing the prison to be overcrowded.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice has called on prosecution and defense lawyers to work together so as to reduce the overcrowding of the prison compounds and to cut down the number of cases on court dockets.