United States Government human rights report has highlighted Commercial Court Judge Eva Mappy-Morgan alleged unethical conduct or malpractice for the being the subject of judiciary inquiry.
According to a section of the report titled: “Denial of Fair Public Trial,” stated how the Constitution of Liberia provides for independent judiciary, but judges and magistrates were subject to influence and engaged in corruption.
It said judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, grant bail to detainees, award damages in civil cases, or acquit defendants in criminal cases.
It went further that defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants to pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors, or to have court staff place cases on the docket for trial.
About Judge Mappy-Morgan, the report stated that the chief judge of the commercial court and president of the trial judges association was the subject of an investigation for alleged malpractice.
The report stated how the judge was linked to the 2013 communication in which it was alleged that the commercial court authorized the withdrawal, without the consent of one of the litigate parties, of an amount of US$3.4 million at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment or LBDI.
“It was being held in escrow pending final determination of a commercial dispute between the Ducor Petroleum Incorporated and the Monrovia Oil Trading Company or MOTC,” it noted.
The court unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of more than three million dollars from the bank. The judiciary inquiry commission investigation of the case continued at year’s end.
The commission is an auxiliary group established within the judiciary with the exclusive power of the authority to received and investigate complaints against judges for violation of any provision of the judicial canons.
It reported how some judicial officials and prosecutors appeared subject to pressure, and the outcome of some trials appeared to be predetermined, especially when the accused persons were politically connected or socially prominent.
It said while the supreme court of Liberia made provision through the establishment of the Grievance and Ethics Committee for the review of unethical conduct of lawyers and suspended some lawyers from legal practice for up to five (5) years, the public brought few cases.
Both the Grievance and Ethics Committee and the Judiciary Inquiry Committee lacked appropriate guidelines to deliver their mandates effectively and were perceived as nontransparent and subject to influence.
The Liberian constitution and law provide for the right to fair and public trial, but judges and magistrates were subject to influence. By law defendants may opt for a jury trial or trial by judge.
The noted that the defendants have the right to be present at their trial and consult with an attorney or be provided one at public expense in a timely manner. Defendants have the right to be informed of charges promptly and in detail.
If the defendant, complainant, or witness does not speak or understand English, the court is to provide an interpreter for the trial. The justice system does not provide interpreter throughout the legal process.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the United States Government human rights report has landed on the desk of Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor and is said to be causing problem because of the damming nature which among many things exposed lot of judges and magistrates of alleged bribery or corruption.