Chief Justice urges prospective Jurors to take their responsibility seriously (02/05/18)
The National Office of Jury Management of the Judiciary, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, summoned hundreds of Liberians, mostly civil servants, who were randomly selected as prospective jurors, for a day of orientation.
“If selected, the prospective jurors will serve during the February Term of Court” said Cllr. George Katakpah, head of the Jury Management Program at the Judiciary.
According to Cllr. Katakpah, the program has summoned up to 8000 Liberians to perform the “Civic Duty Call” as provided for by the Constitution of Liberia and has conducted eleven (11) orientations in Montserrado County, nine (9) in Bomi and Margibi Counties, and eight (8) in Lofa, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties respectively. He then thanked Liberians, most of whom are young people, for answering the call of the Judiciary to assist in deciding factual issues of cases before the courts.
Speaking at the orientation ceremony, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. also thanked the prospective jurors for accepting to serve as a link between the Judiciary and the ordinary Liberian people.
Justice Korkpor told the prospective jurors that their role is very critical to dispensing justice and cautioned them to take their responsibility very seriously if selected.
“Because if you sit on a murder case and you don’t listen to the evidence and you don’t decide only based on the evidence and you listen to outside influence and other considerations and you make a wrong decision, your conscience is there. You will live with it. If someone is not guilty and by your decision you say the person is, because someone influenced you, you live with the guilt.”
Making reference to the Golden Rule of Life, Justice Korkpor warned the prospective jurors to remember to do unto others as they would expect others to do unto them. He described the Golden Rule as the greatest rule laid down by Christ Jesus in whom he, Justice Korkpor, strongly believes.
In remembrance of the golden rule, Justice Korkpor urged the prospective jurors to decide cases as they see the facts and avoid being influenced by others. “I implore you to do the right thing in the service of our country, he added.”
He used the occasion to inform the prospective jurors that not every allegation in the media against the Judiciary is true. “Even though the system is not perfect,” the Chief Justice admitted, “our intentions as judicial officials are good for our country” he noted.
When he told them that he was happy that they had come to experience what judges go through to handle cases, and criticisms they received when the cases don’t go the way the public sees them, the crowd of over two hundred prospective jurors for Montserrado laughed and cheered.
Concluding, Justice Korkpor lauded the jury management team for regularly conducting jury orientations for the purpose of explaining to prospective jurors the importance of their role as triers of facts before the commencement of the trials.
Jury service is a constitutional mandate. According to Chapter 18 of the Judiciary Law, “Any citizen of the Republic, male or female, who has attained the age of twenty-one year, is competent to serve as a grand or petit juror in the county in which he resides unless that citizen by law is unfit to for service.”
According to the Jury Management Program, jurors are now being selected from the documents and registries of the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo Information Services, LISGIS, the National Elections Commission, NEC and the Civil Service Agency in line with the new jury law.
For several years, names of jurors were provided by the municipalities through a request from the courts for prospective jurors. That system had its own flaws. One of its key drawbacks was the professionalization of jury service by some Liberians who served almost every term of court in violation of the jury law of Liberia.
Cllr. Emmanuel James speaking to Prospective Jurors
Justice Korkpor shakes hands with keynote speaker Cllr. Emmanuel James
Cllr. Katakpah orientating prospective jurors