The ongoing legal battle over the estate of the late Milad Hage entered a critical stage yesterday when two of the lawyers representing Balsam Jawahary were jailed for 30 days each for allegedly forging the signature of the Clerk of the Monthly and Probate Court, Edwin S. Boiman, Sr.
Counselors Milton D. Taylor and J. Viama Blama were accused of inserting a paragraph into a communication that was earlier signed by the court’s clerk and distributed among the tenants of the estate of the late Milad Hage, as was directed by the Supreme Court’s Full Bench.
The forged letter also bore the signature of the Monthly and Probate Court clerk and his full name at the bottom of the document, but Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, who the Supreme Court appointed to replace Judge Vinton Holder to handle the case, argued that the signature was a “forgery”, though it was not attested by any handwriting expert.
In a controversial communication dated December 29, 2014, Counselors Taylor and Blama were said to have quoted Clerk Boiman instructing the Hage’s tenants as saying, “You are informed and instructed by Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, Resident Chief Judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia, whose mandate emanates from the Honorable Supreme Court’s Full Bench, Republic of Liberia, to make all rental and lease payments to Oumou S. Hage’s authorized representatives Mr. Tony T. Hage, Reshidi Hage and Mr. Cooper P. Yalipa.”
Boiman’s original letter, also dated December 29, 2014, had it that “Effective immediately, that as of the date this letter, you will refrain from paying directly or indirectly to the executor of the Intestate Estate of the late Milad R. Hage, Mr. Bassam H. Jawhary or his designated any rental proceeds or any money due the above referenced testate estate.”
It further read, “You are informed that any rental proceeds or money due shall be paid through the Monthly and Probate Court under the gavel of the Presiding Judge, Her Honor, Eva Mappy Morgan , Resident Chief Judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia, whose mandate emanates from the Honorable Supreme Court’s Full Bench.”
Balsam Jawhary is allegedly posing as Attorney-in-Fact of the deceased, while the widow Sirleaf Hage is claiming that she has been denied ownership of her late husband’s property.
It all started when Counselors Milton D. Taylor and J. Viama Blama, filed an application on behalf of their client before the Monthly and Probate Court, arguing that Judge Eva Mappy Morgan instructed her Clerk Boiman to issue an order to Oumou Sirleaf Hage, Tony Hage, Rashid Hage, and Cooper B. Yalipa to be served on the estate’s tenants not to pay rents to Jawahary, when in fact Hage isn’t a Marshal of the Court.
Besides, the lawyers asked Judge Morgan to recuse herself from the case on grounds that she instructed her clerk to sign the court order to make it look authentic and gave same to the other party to stop their client from collecting rents from tenants, contrary to the Supreme Court mandate directing the court to take care of the collection of the rents.
Surprisingly, Judge Morgan claimed that copy of her initial order signed by Boiman and given to Hage’s tenants was forged and this claim was yesterday declared proven, when the court clerk denied it.
Based on that, Judge Morgan ruled she did not believe the document which the lawyers claim came from her clerk’s office and was the very document sent to all of the tenants for their record, but believed it a forgery meant to deceive the court.
Judge Morgan also said, the court had no doubt the forgery was committed by the lawyers because she did not give such instruction.
She said the lawyers had effected changes to a document in a bid to mislead people into thinking that the document was an authentic copy.
"The court cannot believe that the copy was the one which Boiman signed,” she further claimed.
“It is clear… that the lawyers made the changes themselves, and eventually tried to pass it off as an authentic copy," Judge Morgan ruled in concluding that the signature was forged by the counselors, despite the lawyers’ argument that they knew nothing about it.
She went ahead and sent them to jail for forgery.