Liberia’s Supreme Court has fined Cllr. Viama A. Blama US$200, payable in 72 hours, while ordering his teammate Cllr. James A.A. Pierre, Jr. to appear under contempt citation for his failure to attend a hearing of their client’s case Wednesday, 13 April.
Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said on Wednesday that the Supreme Court fined Cllr. Blama for his failure to have filed a brief in the case on behalf of his client.
Cllrs. Blama and Pierre coincidentally came into trouble with the Supreme Court yesterday at a time the high court was just lifting suspension against their colleague Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, and restoring his license after serving two months of punishment for violating ethics of the legal profession.
After fining Cllr. Blama, Chief Justice Korkpor ordered his colleague Cllr. Pierre to appear on Tuesday, [19 April] to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for his failure to appear for the case, though he received notice of assignment.
It all started after Cllr. Blama pleaded with the court to postpone hearing on grounds that the additional counsel in person of Cllr. Pierre did not appear because he wanted to familiarize himself with the case.
But while seeking postponement of the case to await Cllr. Pierre, it seemed that Cllr. Blama was not on top of information that his colleague Cllr. Pierre had already written the Supreme Court clerk to announce his
immediate withdrawal of representation so he (Cllr. Blama) repeatedly faced Chief Justice Korkpor’s questions if he was sure that Cllr. Pierre was still in the case.
Associate Justice Sie-A- Yuoh said lawyers here have a way of going to tell their clients that the Supreme Court is not hearing their cases, when some would ask for assignment and not appear.
But Cllr. Blama later said Cllr. Pierre did not inform him of his withdrawal from the case, and pleaded with the court for mercy.
But the court said Cllr. Blama could not go without punishment, thus imposing the fine of US$200. In keeping with the Court’s rule Three Section (B), Cllr. Blama should have filed his brief “five days after or within 15 days” after the service of the notice of the completion of the appeal, but failed to do so.
As for his colleague, Cllr. Pierre, the court said withdrawal from a case is by leave of court, once the lawyer has commenced the representation of the client.
The court therefore said Cllr. Pierre needed to make a request with the court and where it deemed proper, relieve him of further representation of the client.
Regarding Cllr. Dempster Brown, the Supreme Court recalled that he represented a party in a particular case when it was determined that he carried on certain acts that violated the ethics of the legal profession.
He was subsequently suspended from the practice of law directly and indirectly in Liberia for two months, commencing February 5 and ending April 5, 2016.
Cllr. Brown was represented at the Supreme Court by Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue, who filed a petition with the court to request lifting of his suspension and restoration of his license.
Cllr. Cherue pleaded with the court that his client had learned lesson after faithfully serving his punishment, and vowed that such conduct will not be repeated. He promised to observe and abide by the ethics and rule of court.
The Supreme Court said it was happy that Cllr. Brown promised to uphold the ethics of the legal profession as laid down, including rule of court and other instruments.
The court granted his petition, lifted his suspension and restored his license. The clerk was ordered to communicate with all courts and judges in Liberia that Cllr. Brown’s suspension has been lifted and his license restored to practice law within the Republic of ………………….. byEditing by Jonathan Browne