“Judges Lives are Under Threat” Says Criminal Court “C’ Judge Ousman Feika
Criminal Court “C’Judge Ousman Feika says Judges lives are under threat from callous attacks on their persons families and homes, adding that it has become a serious concern among Judges.
Delivering the Judge’s charge at the opening of May term of Criminal Court A, B,C and D, Judge Feika lamented that since judges are unaware of the motives behind the attacks on their lives , it is important that armed security guards be assigned to Judges to protect them at all times.
According to him, there is no state security protection for judges and their families despite role they play by leaving their families vulnerable to attacks from unscrupulous individuals in rendering Justice across the country.
“This needs to stop! It is therefore our expectation that the relevant authorities will take the appropriate steps to initiate or re- initiate programs for the protection of Judges and their families across the country,” he said.
The criminal court ‘D’ also used the occasion to call on the Judiciary to make an upward adjustment in days for trials within the Circuit Court.
He wants session for jury trial to be increased to Five months for each court term.
Accordingly, section 3.8(2) of the Judiciary Law of Liberia , states that “Ten days before the opening of each quarterly session, there shall be a pre-trial chamber session to be held by the circuit judge assigned to sit during the quarterly sessions which shall immediately be followed by a trial session beginning with the opening of each quarterly session and continuing for forty-two consecutive days not including Sundays and legal holidays unless sooner terminated because all business before the court is disposed of before the expiration of that period.
He said “In our mind, “during trial technicalities” implored by lawyers, most of the 42 days allotted for jury session are already exhausted before the end of the court’s term, thus impeding the speedy trial requirement as envisaged under Article 21(h) of the Constitution of Liberia,”.
Article 21(h) of the Constitution of Liberia quotes: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or infamous crime except in cases of impeachment, cases arising in the Armed Forces and petty offenses, unless upon indictment by Grand Jury; and in all such cases, the accused shall have the right to a speedy, public and impartial trial by a jury of the vicinity, unless such person shall, with appropriate understanding, expressly waive the right to a jury trial.”
He also recommended that the jury session for each court term be increased to five (5) months for Circuit Courts, beginning February and ending June for the First term, while the second term is suggested to run from July to November each year.
“To enhanced the speedy trial requirement as envisaged under the Liberian Constitution and at the same time provides judges adequate time to dispose of pre- trial technicalities and the plethora of motion that attend same and allow the court to hear a lot more cases within a court’s term,” he recommended.
He added that addressing these issues will also afford Judges time to rest for the month of December and January at which time they can have the opportunity to look after their health, refresh and attend to family issues, as they are also a part of family.