Though the 1986 Constitution of Liberia provides that everyone is entitled to legal representation, this law seems not to be taking effect in the ongoing investigation of Judge Roland Dahn’s alleged judicial impropriety, due to the constant refusal of some members of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA); to take up the case against the judge.
On Friday, February 4, proceeding came to an immediate postponment when the British national, Hans Armstrong who had accused Judge Dahn, raised several legal issues that compelled the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) to inform Armstrong that only a lawyer could help him make said submission before the commission.
This suspension is the second time the Dahn’s Investigation had failed to commence based on the inability of Armstrong to secure a lawyer to represent him.
Mercifully, the commission unanimously agreed to give Armstrong days to secure the services of a lawyer to represent him.
Armstrong had early accused Judge Dahn of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County of being in constant communication with Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh, while presiding over a theft of property case between Amstrong and Sengbeh, which Investigation Chief Justice Francis Korkpor approved.
Scaringly, almost all of the lawyers of the LNBA that Armstrong contacted refused to take the challenge to face Judge Dahn, who had hired some of the best lawyers in the country like the former Associate Justice and Liberia first Judge to the ECOWAS Court of Justice, based in Abuja the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Counselor Wilkins Wright.
Surprisingly, one of the lawyers who spoke to the Daily Observer on condition of anonymity admitted to the refusal of lawyers to represent Armstrong in the ongoing investigation.
“I have represented Armstrong in several other cases, but for this investigation, I can’t represent him. If I do as a young lawyer, I would be endangering my profession,” the unnamed lawyer claimed.” He added: “I know what I am saying because all of the judges are one and if I dare take up the matter, I will never win a case in this country throughout my practice of law and no client would like to do business with me.”
The lawyer’s statement, if proven to be truthful, is illegal and against all traditions of the LNBA and professional ethics.
Because the ethics provide that every person, however wicked, depraved, vile, degenerated, perverted, loathsome, execrable, vicious or repulsive he or she may be regarded by society, has the right to be defended in a court of law and correspondingly, it is the duty of the lawyer to defend him.
A legal pundit who spoke with this paper described the statement as, “A disgrace to the legal community,” and declared it null and void.
“The lawyer’s attitude is against all norms of the Constitution, the statute and professional ethics,” the legal practitioner said.
What does the1986 Constitution say about the fundamental right and the rights to legal representation?
Article 21(H) gives the fundamental right to every person not to be denied the right to be defended by a legal practitioner of his or her choice.
Article 11(C) provides for equality before the law and equal protection of the law within the territory of Liberia, and at the same time Article 20 (A), states that no one must be denied equal opportunity to secure justice.
Boastfully after the suspension of the second time in row, judge Dahn and his team of lawyers were heard outside of Investigation hall at the Temple of Justice discussing Armstrong’s failure to hire a lawyer against the judge. “He wants to just waste our time. Why can’t he bring a lawyer? This means there is nothing he got to defend against the judge,” one of Dahn’s lawyers was heard boasting. Despite the unwillingness of lawyers to express interest in representing Armstrong against Judge Roland Dahn, there is overwhelming evidence like the call logs that showed communication exchanges between Dahn and Singbeh.