Speaking at the well-attended program, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, His Honor Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said the Supreme Court attaches great importance to the jury program. He briefed the prospective jurors of their civic duty as citizens and the important role they play as ordinary citizens in the dispensation of Justice.
He admonished those to be selected to serve, not to be influence by anybody, saying “always decide cases based on the facts; because if you don’t, you may punish an innocent person or set a guilty person free, by the wrong decision you make. Always do what your conscience says is right”.
For his part, the Associate Justice, His Honor Kabineh M. Ja’neh expressed his satisfaction at the improvement made in the jury system because of the new requirements stipulated within the new jury law of the Republic which sets higher standards and broader scope for citizens serving jury duties.
Meanwhile, speaking on the topic “Jury Service-The Liberian Experience” the President of the Liberian National Bar Association, LNBA, Cllr. G. Moses Paegar, quoted Article 20(a), 21(h) Section 22.1.1 and Section 12.3.2 of the Civil Procedure Law and the Liberia Constitution referencing the importance of jury trial in Liberia.
Cllr. Paegar defined jury trial as a proceeding in which the jury is the judge of the facts and the court is the judge of the law. This means, the ultimate determination of issues of facts is to be made by the jury under proper guidance and direction of the court. He said the right to jury trial only arises where the disputed facts or where different inferences may be drawn from the undisputed facts.
For the Liberian experience, the Counselor observed that, “the successful party and the lawyer in whose favor a verdict is returned, the obvious response would be that jury trial is great, jury trial is perfect, and jury trials properly vindicate one’s right. For the unsuccessful party, the response would be jury trial is a waste of time, the jurors are biased, they know nothing, they are unable to discern the intricate nature of the case”.
He however told the prospective jurors that, jury service is a civic duty imposed by law and admonish them to be serious as they embark upon the performance of their duty without fear or favor.
The Office of Jury Management within the Judiciary was established thru an amendment of Chapter 22, section 23.1.1 of the Civil Procedure Law (May 22, 2013) which states, “as established by law, the National Jury Manager is appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee matters pertaining to jury management and is responsible for jury selection, organizing the central pool and ordering the number of jurors necessary for functioning of Circuit Courts under the supervision of the Chief Justice”.
The Office of Jury Management has since been established in seven circuit within the Republic, namely, 1st & 6th Judicial Circuits of Montserrado County, 2nd Judicial Circuit of Grand Bassa County, 7th Judicial Circuit of Grand Gedeh County, 8th Judicial Circuit of Nimba County, 9th Judicial Circuit of Bong County, 10th Judicial Circuit of Lofa County, 11th Judicial Circuit of Bomi County and 13th Judicial Circuit of Margibi County.