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Who really is Francis Korkpor -The Chief Justice of Liberia?

MONROVIA, Liberia –There are some people who do not gain realization until it is too late, and there are others who can easily recognize when they are headed in the wrong direction.

It would appear that the current Chief Justice of Liberia, His Honor Francis Korkpor has recognized that his hard-earned integrity and reputation are worth more than anything, especially after facing the wrath and some condemnations from several corners of the Liberian society for the manner in which the country’s judicial system was being perceived and run.

In a recent period and after some setbacks, the Korkpor Court is now doubling down and making every effort to instill judicial independence, accountability, and transparency by making landmark court’s decisions that are now making several Liberians regain confidence and trust in their country’s judicial system.

So who exactly is Francis Korkpor Sr.?  Chief Justice Korkpor is a Liberian lawyer and jurist who has been the Chief Justice of Liberia since 2013.

Korkpor entered government in 1982 as a prosecuting attorney, the same year he graduated from the Law School at the University of Liberia.

While serving at the Ministry of Justice in Liberia, he aggressively prosecuted repeated offenders, violent criminals, and public officials who committed ethical defilements or indecencies.

People familiar with his work say his untiring work as a prosecutor in the justice ministry’s litigation section earned him promotions to the posts of Assistant Minister for Economic Affairs in 1985 and Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs in 1988, respectively.

He served in the latter position until the beginning of the civil war, which made him travel to the United States of America, where he pursued advanced legal education.

Having gained experience in legal practice as a Counsellor of the Supreme Court of Liberia during the early 1980s, Chief Justice Korkpor resigned from the government and established the Tiala Law Firm in Monrovia.

He provided legal services to the people of Liberia, especially in collaboration with human rights organizations and journalists who were targets of the erstwhile government of President Charles G. Taylor.

He also represented the legal interests of several other organizations, including the Catholic Church of Liberia and was one of those Liberians considered to be a mentee of the acclaimed late Liberian Catholic prelate, Archbishop Michael K. Francis of the Archdiocese of Monrovia.

Across the legal terrain of Liberia, Chief Justice Korkpor established himself as one of Liberia’s foremost legal minds, built partnerships, and maintained mutual interpersonal relationships within the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA).

Born in the town of Zao, Lao Clan, Nimba County, Liberia, Chief Justice Korkpor’s legal career spans over three decades and includes service as a private lawyer, prosecutor, and Supreme Court Justice. His legal experience includes serving in the following positions:

  • Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Liberia
  • Nominated and confirmed in April 2013; seating on April 18, 2013
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Liberia January 4, 2004, to April 17, 2013
  • Associate Professor, Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia 2009-2010
  • Assistant Minister, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Justice 1988-1990
  • Assistant Minister, Economic Affairs, Ministry of Justice 1985-1988
  • Assistant Minister, Litigation, Ministry of Justice 1976-1985

His academic qualification includes but not limited to, the following:

  • Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, 1976, University of Liberia, Monrovia
  • Criminal Justice diploma, 1978, North Carolina Justice Academy, United States of America
  • Bachelor of Law, 1982, Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, Monrovia

Like the current Chief Justice of the United States, His Honor John Roberts and several Associate Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court such as justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, Chief Justice Korkpor of Liberia is a dedicated Catholic, and belongs to several professional and religious organizations including but not limited to the following:

  • Member, West Africa Judges Association (WAJA)
  • Member, Chief Justices’ Judicial Council, ECOWAS Community Court of Justice
  • Member, Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA)
  • Member, Knights of Marshall
  • Member, St. Anthony Catholic Church, Monrovia

With the new paradigm shift coming from the Liberian judiciary, especially the Supreme Court of Liberia under the leadership of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Liberians are beginning to regain hope and build confidence in the country’s judicial system. 

The question is: Will Korkpor and his team continue to elevate the hopes and aspirations of the Liberian people about strengthening the country’s judicial system? Only time will tell. 

At least for now, the Korkpor Court is shifting the Liberian judiciary from being perceived as a rubber-stamped and corrupt institution to a credible, transparent, and independent judicial system.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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