Liberia’s IMO Representative Jackson claims
More than a month after Cllr. Arthur Johnson openly announced his withdrawal from the case of his client, Isaac W. Jackson, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Authority, Jackson, himself a lawyer, said, Cllr. Johnson’s stepping out of the trial was not granted by law.
Cllr. Johnson, in his withdrawal letter to Jackson, dated January 24, 2020, said: “My withdrawal from the case stems from the fact of your media appearances both in electronic and print, preempting and predicting the ruling of the Supreme Court and, at the same time, calling the High Court Chief Justice, Francis Korkpor and Supreme Court into public ridicule.”
Cllr. Johnson’s letter further reads, “As a lawyer before the High Court, I cannot continue to represent a client whose actions disrespect the court. It will show an appearance that I am in support of your action against the Supreme Court Chief Justice,” the letter noted. Moreover, “you were advised to stay away from the press during our last conversations. Doing this threatens my career as a lawyer because I am not a Politician, but rather a lawyer.”
“As a Counselor-At-Law and a member of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, I am prohibited from supporting any act that undermines the dignity, credibility, and integrity of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, and that is to say all Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia,” the letter said.
It can be recalled that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2016 appointed Mr. Jackson to the position. However, on June 19, 2018, President George Manneh Weah appointed Moses Owen Browne, former public relations officer at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), to replace Jackson, which appointment Cllr. Johnson accused President Weah of being in violation of the Constitution.
However, Jackson said, contrary to Cllr. Johnson’s meaningless prevarications, he wrote Cllr. Johnson two separate communications pertaining to Johnson’s decision to unceremoniously withdraw from the case.
“The first letter on April 22, 2019, acknowledged Cllr. Johnson’s withdrawal, while the second letter on May 9, 2019, requested him to reinstate himself because he was in violation of the law,” Jackson added.
Contrary to the Rule of Court, Jackson noted, Cllr. Johnson failed to adhere to the advice.
Therefore, Jackson said, “Cllr. Johnson should honestly address himself to my letter dated May 9, 2019, calling for his reinstatement.”
Jackson further explained that after Cllr. Johnson announced his withdrawal on April 22, 2019, notifying him about his withdrawal, he (Jackson) instantly replied Cllr. Johnson the very day (April 22, 2019) accepting his withdrawal notice with thanks.
However, following a two-week period of research, Jackson said, he realized that Cllr. Johnson’s notice of withdrawal was not granted by the law.
“I wrote Cllr. Johnson a second letter dated May 9, 2019, asking him to reinstate himself, a letter Cllr. Johnson is maliciously concealing from the press,” Jackson claimed, wondering, “why is Cllr. Johnson trying to destroy himself in this manner?”
“It is shamelessly embarrassing that Cllr. Johnson would twist the facts and subsequently brag about representing me for little money,” Jackson intoned.
Jackson argues that even if Cllr. Johnson was rendering a pro bono service, he (Johnson) was still legally bound to be professional and ethical in his work as a lawyer at all times.
Additionally, Jackson said, from his legal research, he has realized that after Johnson agreed to represent him and subsequently argue his case before the Supreme Court, Johnson was stopped from withdrawing from his case, even while he is awaiting a court’s judgment.”
“This practice is in keeping with the well-established rules of court. And, there are precedents where the Supreme Court has rejected counsel’s withdrawal after arguments before the full bench,” Jackson noted.
“I would advise in the first stance, based on the Rules of Court under reference that you kindly reinstate your representation and let us consider the next steps,” Jackson warns Cllr. Johnson.
Firstly, Jackson said, the best thing for Cllr. Johnson is for him to reach out to the solicitor general, as regards Chief Justice Francis Korkpor’s instruction, when Cllr. Johnson argued the case before the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Korkpor advised then Solicitor General, Cllr. Daku Mulbah to re-issue Jackson and his family who reside in the United Kingdom their diplomatic passports that have since expired.
“Cllr. Johnson was instructed to ascertain the renewal status of diplomatic passport in my favor and those of my dependents (wife two kids under ten years old),” Jackson added. “It is been almost a month now since Justice Korkpor asked the two of you (Cllr Johnson and Cllr. Mulbah) to work together and thereafter re-enforced the request with a mandate as announced in the media for the renewal of our passports.”
He said Johnson and Mulbah’s delay is again a violation of the mandate of the Supreme Court.
Secondly, Jackson said he needs to formally inform the court of the government‘s repeated inherent violations of its order and the continual abuse of his fundamental rights and those of my family.
“We reach the decision to file the Bill of Information, we will need to let the court know that aside from the refusal of the government of Liberia to issue our passports, the government has also refused to pay me my salaries and entitled benefits for up to four months now,” Jackson claims.