By Edwin G. Wandah
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Francis Korkpor has hailed his fallen comrade and predecessor as a hero, naming the former Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis’ achievements in the Judiciary as a lucid example for others to emulate.
Making a special statement at the Temple of Justice where the remains of late Chief Justice Lewis was being viewed for an hour, Chief Justice Korkpor called on the entire Judiciary to look at the legacy the former Chief Justice left for lawyers to judge him by.
Chief Justice Korkpor noted that his predecessor was an astute judge to reckon with due to his steadfastness and boldness exhibited among his peers and other junior lawyers including the public which made many perceived him as being harsh, but said Mr. Lewis also had some soft side too.
The Chief Justice explained that in 2006, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected as President, she decided to reconstitute the Supreme Court after the many years of civil war, the President appointed five lawyers consisting of Johnnie N. Lewis, 1st Justice as Chief Justice, J. Emmanuel Wureh, 2nd Justice as Senior Associate Justice, Francis S. Korkpor Sr. as 3rd Justice, Associate Justice; Gladys K. Johnson, 4th Justice as Associate Justice and Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, 5th Justice, making the list of the Johnnie Lewis Bench.
However, Chief Justice Korkpor said, amongst the original members of the Lewis Bench, former Justice Johnson retired from active law service and Justice Wureh died in the first year of their tenure.
For some of Chief Justice Lewis’ achievements, Chief Justice Korkpor named several developments including, four new courtrooms constructed on the grounds of the Supreme Court thereby transferring Criminal Courts “C” and “D”, the Civil Law Court, into spacious and modern courtrooms.
Other developments were the judicial complexes constructed in Sinoe and Gbapolu Counties as well as several magisterial courts constructed and rehabilitated throughout the country with the assistance of the UNMIL Quick Impact Projects and other financial assistances from the Liberian government, the establishment of the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute and the Public Defense Program that is now spread throughout the country.