Prosecutors have resisted a “quack lawyer”, who they claimed was ‘masquerading’ as a lawyer for a defendant at Criminal Court “D,” Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
On Friday, February 13, 2015, a Justice Ministry’s lawyer, Cllr. Sunifu S. Sheriff, requested the court to deny the representation of “one Rudolph Hightower”, who presented himself as counsel for defendant Jacob Vertekeh, for claims that Hightower had no standing to speak as a lawyer.
Cllr. Sheriff, who is also a member of the Liberia National Bar Association, has called for Hightower’s immediate arrest and prosecution by the Ministry of Justice, accusing him of being ringleader in a fraudulent act against the legal profession here.
Cllr. Sheriff complained that it has become a tradition here by “some quacks” desecrating the court profession by proceeding to institutions, impersonating as lawyers.
He claimed that “through these misrepresentations,” the quacks are issued licenses and bar clearances, and this has come to the attention of the bar [Liberia National Bar Association] in recent weeks.
Prosecutors said Hightower has made it his usual practice to enter court mendaciously and misrepresent innocent people, as they sought the court’s discretion and do just for the … upkeep of the legal profession.
But the accused, Rudolph Hightower denied the claimed and alleged to have practiced before several circuit courts since he allegedly obtained his first license in October 2010.
Hightower claimed to be a ‘memoir’ of the Margibi County local bar and has practiced before the Criminal Courts “A” and “D” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, having earlier cited rule 35 which he said, requires a license and membership with the national bar to be a qualified lawyer in the Republic.
The court however ruled that it is the National Bar Association and the Supreme Court of Liberia that can provide information as to those who are duly qualified lawyers in the Republic of Liberia.
So far as per the court’s knowledge, the presiding judge said, one must be a graduate of the Louis Arthur Grime School of Law or its equivalent; must have practiced law for at least three years; first admitted to the National Bar at any of the local bars and that their admission will be honored by the Republic.
The court added that after being admitted by a presiding judge, the person must practice at least three years as attorney – at- law and then apply for the Supreme Court bar test before becoming a counselor- at- law upon passing the examination.
Given all of the processes cited by the court, the judge said some investigation would be required, and therefore, granted a severance trial requested by contested “lawyer” Hightower for his client, defendant Vertekeh. The court however said the defendant will not plead in the indictment.
By Winston W. Parley