Liberia’s Supreme Court has fined Cllr. James A.A. Pierre, Jr. US$200, for not representing his client, after the counsel admitted to the high court that his action was “improper” in attempting to withdraw his representation without his decision being [endorsed] by the court.
Cllr. Pierre appeared Tuesday, 19 April under a contempt citation at the Supreme Court after the high court fined his teammate Cllr. Viama A. Blama last week due to his failure to file brief for a client that the both lawyers represent in a case.
Chief Justice His Honor Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said yesterday that at the call of the main case for hearing on Wednesday, 13 April, Cllr. Pierre did not appear to represent his client, even though he hadreceived notice of assignment to do so.
He also observed that Cllr. Pierre himself admitted that it was not proper for him to have stayed away from court after receiving the notice of assignment. As a result of his non-appearance to represent his client by instruction contained in the notice of assignment, the Supreme Court fined Cllr. Pierre US$200 to be paid in government revenues within 72 hours.
The court also instructed the counsel to deposit a copy of the receipt to the Marshall of the Supreme Court; while at the same time instructing that he remains a counsel of records for the client in the main case.
Before the court made its decision against Cllr. Pierre, he apologized for his “improper attempt to withdrawal” from the case, and begged that the court temper justice with mercy.
He conceded that his action was improper, and that the filling of the withdrawal was an overreaction to his colleague Cllr. Blama’s unilateral application for assignment of the case. Cllr. Pierre said he had no knowledge of the case because he was brought in as a co-counsel after it had been concluded at the lower court, and therefore, he would have been unable to represent his client at the call of the case without familiarizing himself with the matter.
He told the court that the first time he became aware of the assignment was the time he was served the notice of the assignment on Monday, April 11, to appear on Wednesday, April 13. He concluded that the court should purge him of contempt and temper justice with mercy. But he was fined, while the court announced that the matter will be reassigned upon notice of assignment to be issued.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne