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Judges fine prosecutors

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-for boycotting courts

Circuit Court judges in Monrovia have fined prosecutors US$300.00 to be paid to the judiciary’s account within 72 hours as of Wednesday, 19 May 2021, having adjudged the Ministry of Justice in Contempt of Court due to state lawyers’ boycotting of courts that undermined the rule of law.

“This Court says that the conduct of the Ministry of Justice to refuse assignments and /or its failure to appear in our courts since the formal opening of the May Term, A.D. 2021 and the February 2021 Term of Court of Criminal Court “F”, undermines the Rule of Law, interrupts the administration of justice and defies the authority and dignity of our courts,” the judges said.

In the ruling signed by judges presiding over five criminal court courts here, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie said the court is cognizant of the pendency of cases before the First Judicial Circuit for Montserrado County, and the pre-trial detainees at the Monrovia Central Prison who are awaiting trial during the May Term Court.

Further, the court said it is also aware that the victims or the distressed clients of the Ministry of Justice highly expected their cases to be heard without any delay.

The Judges noted that the Ministry of Justice is one of the judicial actors in the jurisdiction here, and as such, the ministry is legally obliged to attend and handle cases or matters of their clients so as to protect their liberty or life.

Upon the payment of the fine, the Justice Ministry is instructed to exhibit a payment receipt to the Sheriff of Montserrado County to be filed with the Clerk of Criminal Court “A” and appear in court on Wednesday, 26 May for hearing of assigned cases in the respective courts.

Failure on the part of the Ministry of Justice to abide by the mandates, the judges said they will “issue a Criminal Contempt against” Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean and Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus who are directly responsible for litigation in the various courts here.

Circuit courts in Monrovia have been paralyzed by prosecutors’ failure to appear in court to hear cases due to alleged lack of materials to work with since the May Term of Court resumed, resulting in some party litigants staging protests at the Temple of Justice for their case to be heard.

On Monday, 17 May, riot police had to intervene at the Temple of Justice when some complainants who had filed a theft of property and criminal conspiracy case staged a protest at the Criminal Court “C” in anger over a reported continual postponement of the date to hear their case since this court term began.

Ahead of the protest Monday, Criminal Court “A” had earlier on 13 May summoned Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and Cllr. SaymaSyreniusCephus, Solicitor General of Liberia to appear before it on Tuesday, 18 May to give reason for prosecutors’ failure and refusal to appear in court since the opening of the May Term.

“The Respondents Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., Minister, Ministry of Justice and Cllr. SaymaSyreniusCephus, Solicitor General, Ministry of Justice must appear before this Honorable Court on the date and time stated above to show cause why this court should not hold them in contempt for their prosecutors failure and refusal to appear in court upon receipt of notices of assignment since the opening of the May, A.D. 2021, Term of Court,” the Court said.

Among other cases, the Criminal Court “C” is expected to hear a theft of property and criminal conspiracy case filed against Reginald Taylor, Maria Morgan Luyken, Amos Benjamin, S. Bismarck Appleton, MeattiaYancy, and Ralph Johnson for having allegedly defrauding several victims of US$378,490 through dubious means.

Over time the complainants in the case grew impatient because their case had often had to be postponed due to state prosecutors’ absence from court to proceed with hearing.

It even resulted in some raising suspicion that something else other than the prosecutors’ absence could have been responsible for this case to be delayed.

However the prosecutors’ absence has also affected not only Criminal Court “C”, but other criminal courts, as seen through the communication from Criminal Court “A” which summons Justice Minister Dean and Solicitor General Cephus to answer for prosecutors’ absence from court.

Criminal Court “C” is the center of attraction for now because it is where defendants Reginald Taylor, Maria Morgan Luyken, Amos Benjamin, S. bismarck Appleton, MeattiaYancy, and Ralph Johnson are due to face trial for allegedly deceiving and extorting US$378,490 from several victims who are struggling for better opportunities and saw the purported Cycle of Life Fellowship as a solution.

The indictment against the accused narrates that between October and November 2020, the defendants organized a criminal enterprise named Cycle of Life Fellowship with the intent to trick and dupe state victims and other citizens. Through that dubious organization, the indictment says the defendants criminally stole US$378,490.00 from the victims. By Winston W. Parley

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