MONROVIA: The Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘E,’ at the Temple of Justice, Mardea Chenoweth, has warned members of the judiciary, especially Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, to take a more neutral stance in the October 10 presidential and Legislative elections.
Judge Chenoweth: “When the law says remain neutral, it also means that you don’t openly or clandestinely lend support to any individual politician or political party.”
The judge asserted that while a justice of the Supreme Court is entitled to entertain his/ her personal view of political matters, “he or she is not required by the law to surrender his or her rights as a citizen.”
“It would however be in his or her best interest and for the public good that upon his/her appointment to that Bench of Honor, as a Judge, Magistrate or Justice of the Peace, that he or she publicly resign his or her political affiliation, whatever political party of which he/she was a member of prior to his/her elevation,” the Criminal Court Judge added.
Chenoweth made the call on August 14, 2023, when she delivered her charge during the August 2023 opening of Criminal Courts “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E” for Montserrado County.
She also said the Supreme Court, as a reviewer of cases, should do it without using partisan lenses “but work solely on the basis of sound legal reasoning.”
Chenoweth noted that “it is clear from the perspective of many writers in and outside of this country that the Judiciary was part of the problems that led to the civil uprising in this country, principally because of its partisan leaning in the 1980s.”
She added that the decision of the Supreme Court cannot, and should not be inspired by partisan objectives.
“The judiciary must not be political and must remain inherently different from the other two branches of government,” Chenoweth emphasized.
On the matter of disposing of political disputes, Chenoweth said, justices should look in the faces of political actors to tell them that it is the electorate that decide the winners of elections.
“Those who are aspiring for political positions, in the Executive and the Legislature must be told in a loud voice that it is the electorate that decide those who win elections in this country and not the courts,” Chenoweth noted.
“It will, therefore, be an illusion for any candidate to think that the Judiciary will validate any election result that will be a product of fraud.”
According to Chenoweth, when judges stray from the rule of law, they become a problem and not a solution.
“I admonish all of you judges, including justices of the Supreme Court, that as pillars of the stability of this country, we should remain mindful and focused on our responsibility to this State,” the criminal court maintained.