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Top court reverses ruling favoring Sando Johnson

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The Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice has reversed the Monrovia City Court’s ruling which initially favored Bomi County Sen. Sando Johnson in a legal action filed against a farm manager defendant James Cooper.

Sen. Johnson in 2018 sued Mr. Cooper on charges of menacing and criminal malevolence, accusing Cooper of issuing threats on him (Sen. Johnson) and his family’s life via several text messages.Sen. Johnson filed the legal action after defendant Cooper publicly accused him on the Costa Show of allegedly soliciting US$1.4m as precondition to guarantee the farmer’s request for a US$7.2 million loan from the Rubber Stimulus Fund.

Following productions of evidences and witnesses by both parties in the case, Sen. Johnson won the case at the City Court, and Stipendiary Magistrate Kennedy Peabody sentenced defendant Copper subsequently to serve a prison term of one year.

But resident Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie overturned Magistrate Peabody’s ruling Monday, 21 January and set the defendant free, saying Cooper is not guilty of the crimes of criminal malevolence and menacing as charged.

Judge Roosevelt finds from records before the court that it is clear that Cooper’s claim that Sen. Johnson made such a statement for a US$1.4 million is true.Judge Roosevelt based his conclusion on a response said to be provided by Sen. Johnson’s lawyer to a question if his client requested for the US$1.4 million.

According to Judge Roosevelt, Sen. Johnson’s lawyer had said ‘what prompted that statement, the whole conversation was never played’.“By this assertion, coupled with the Appellant (Cooper’s) witnesses testimonies, it is cleared that the Appellant’s claim that the Private Prosecutor (Sen. Johnson) made such a statement for a US$1.4 million is true,” the Judge says.

The Court’s minutes indicate that Pastor Karkon Kazor, testifying for defendant Cooper, narrated that during a meeting among Sen. Johnson, Cooper and others, the Senator allegedly indicated that he had gone to protect his sister Johnnetta Stewart who was requesting US$1.4m from Cooper.

According to Pastor Kazor, Sen. Johnson allegedly indicated that his sister Johnnetta and Cooper had dated for a number of years and she put some collateral, but they were not together again.Pastor Kazor says while Cooper refused this demand because he was going to secure a loan which he would have to pay back, Sen. Sen. Johnson insisted that it was the only way Cooper could secure the loan.

On the issue of alleged threat against Sen. Johnson, Court “A” says there is no proof of this claim in the records.Additionally the Judge says if Cooper were found guilty of the crime charge, the maximum prison term would have been four months instead of one year as pronounced by the Magistrate.

By Winston W. Parley

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