Monday, 16 May 2011

No Dean Jallah Judges Should Not Take Bribes

By: Bruce James,, Contributing Writer

It is often said that the worth of good people can be seen from the utterances that the make, which in turn suggests the person’s track records. Liberian people, most especially the females like to say facts come through joke.

In the Tuesday, May 10, 2011 edition of the New Democrat Newspaper, the Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, Cllr. David Jallah is quoted as telling his colleague lawyers at the May Quarterly Session of the 6th Judicial Circuit (Civil Court of Law, Equity and Admiralty, Montserrado County) that they should take bribes offered to them but do the right thing at the end of the day.

Taking this statement at face value, a non-critical person would be quick to conclude that the dean was simply trying to inspire a sense of integrity in his colleagues. He was telling them that it does not matter whether they accept unwholesome favors to perform their duties. What mattered is that such favors should not impact their ultimate judgments.

But the question here is not whether the dean should be lauded for trying to get his colleagues to do the right thing. It is necessary to consider his statement from the standpoint of it signifying a deeply ingrained problem faced by the Liberian judiciary.

This is a problem that many people in the country do not want to discuss or attack head on by calling the spade a spade. So as a result, they tend to suggest inane solutions to the problem like “take the bribe but do what is right”.

Are these judges and judicial workers angels or saints to accept bribes and not follow through with what is requested? One thing that is very clear in human endeavor is that if someone does not want to be compromised, that person should do her level best not to put herself in a compromising position.

In making his call to judges, did Cllr. Jallah with his over 32 years of experience give consideration to the question of what yardstick should be used to decide whether or not the judge or judicial worker’s decision in the particular case in question was not colored by the bribe the person received from one of the parties? Has the dean further considered that such behavior of bribe taking if encouraged would eventually lead to it being solicited by the judges themselves, and crucially from both sides of the divide? In such a case, how would any impartial observer be able to tell whether or not the person made the “right decision”?

Considering that many of these judges at some point went through the tutelage of this very dean, he should have weighed his statement before uttering them on this particular issue, since these people could go with the mindset that even the dean of the venerated Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law said we can take bribes.

With abundant claims of a very corrupt judiciary, Cllr. Jallah did very little to inspire public and international confidence in the judiciary by his call to his colleagues to continue the despicable behavior of stealing justice from the people of this country.

Crucially, Dean Jallah has to be asked whether he has tested this method which he has so boldly and publicly proposed to solve this huge injustice in Liberia. Has the dean been faced with the situation of taking bribes before and yet still doing what is right? He has to publish “The David Jallah Guide to Taking Bribes and Doing the Right Thing”?

On the more serious side, Cllr. Jallah has to be investigated so that the public can be clear that he has not been or is not one of those people who take bribes and yet hold high positions of public trust. Does the dean take bribes from well known law school students so that they are graduated at the top of their classes? Does he take bribes to foster the situation of cronyism that abound in the law school?

Let the challenge go out to the dean of the law school for a comprehensive audit of the instructional and grading systems employed at the school and the public would be shocked to realize how many high profile people have graduated from there with flying colors when it is clear to all those that take courses with such people that they just could not have made those grades on their own merits.

How can someone who presides over an apparently broken system be the one to prescribe this kind of solution to our problem of ingrained judicial corruption?

These are exactly the kind of assertions that have led to this country to have a very corrupt judicial system. People are put on trial for betraying the public trust and they walk free because they bribe judicial workers (judges, jurors, etc) simply because of the jury nullification rule.

Instead of Cllr. Jallah asking his colleagues to take bribes, he should be demanding that the government carry out sting operations to weed out these bad elements from the country’s judiciary.

As season a lawyer as the dean is, he of all people should know that taking a bribe is a crime and against the lawyers’ code of ethics. So to be the one asking his colleagues to break this code, is extremely abominable regardless of the caveat he adds.

Cllr. Jallah must be made to resign or be fired from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law as he has shown that he lacks the moral integrity to continue presiding over the single institution in Liberia that is responsible to supply the country with judges and lawyers.

The ethics board of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has to open an ethical transgression case against the dean for his utterance encouraging judges to commit crimes.

There is no place in the rebuilding of Liberia for people like David Jallah! He and his like must be weeded out swiftly if this country is to stand any chance of emerging into a prosperous national!


Bruce James is an independent Liberian political commentator who can be reached at