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Justice Banks to decide jailed lawyers’ fate

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaA counsel representing two jailed lawyers has said Presiding Justice-in Chambers, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, will decide whether or not to issue a writ of prohibition prayed for by petitioners Cllrs. Milton Taylor and Viama Blama.

Justice Banks on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 held conference with the jailed lawyers and the responding Judge Eva Mappy Morgan of the Commercial Court, who recently sentenced them to 30 days imprisonment each, for allegedly faking a ruling and failing to prove accusation that she was siding with a party in a case before her.

In a chart with reporters after a chambers conference yesterday, January 13, 2015, one of the counsels for the jailed lawyers, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown is hoping that “from now” [Tuesday] to Friday, the Justice may decide to issue prohibition.

Journalists were not allowed in the conference attended by lawyers and the responding judge in the office of Justice Banks, while Judge Morgan and other lawyers declined to speak with reporters on what was being said in the conference.

Judge Morgan had said she could not speak to reporters because the matter was before the Justice.

While the conference is being held by Justice Banks, the two lawyers are not being kept in prison, except that on the very day of Judge Morgan’s sentence last week, they were immediately taken to the Monrovia Central Prison and at least spent some time behind bars.
At the end of yesterday’s conference, Cllr. Brown said the Justice asked Judge Morgan “to send the records upstairs” after “critically” going through the case.

He said the Justice–In-Chambers will decide whether or not to issue the writ of prohibition requested by the petitioners, saying “… because we asked him to grant our petition for a writ of prohibition against the judge for the action that she took.”

Cllr. Brown claimed that the Justice was concerned as to whether the jailing of the two lawyers by Judge Morgan was under contempt power.

“It was a constitutional issue because there was no due process. The lawyers were grabbed and put in jail. If they had committed any crime, they’re supposed to have been tried. But she didn’t do it and put them in jail,” he argued.
Judge Morgan had imprisoned the two lawyers for claiming in a document that the court had ruled that “… all rental and lease payments” be made “to Oumou S. Hage’s authorized representatives Mr. Toni T. Hage, Bashir M. Hage & Mr. Cooper B. Yalipa.”

Opposed to what the imprisoned lawyers were claiming in their document, what is seen in the court’s ruling is simply instructing that “… any rental proceeds or money due shall be paid through the Monthly & Probate court of Montserrado County under the gavel of the presiding judge, Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan…”

The two documents appeared to have created conflict, and the lawyers additionally accused Judge Morgan for allegedly siding with a party in the case at bar.

The imprisoned lawyers claimed that in a ruling handed on 29 December 2014, Judge Morgan first mandated tenants to refrain from paying rental proceeds to the purported executor of the estate but to the Monthly and Probate Court, while the second mandate allegedly ordered tenants to pay to authorized representatives of Oumou S. Hage.

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