‘Go and Find New Lawyer in 72 Hours’

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Magistrate Duncan (left) warned that if Singbeh (right) does not find the lawyer by October 2, 2019, she would order his immediate arrest and subsequent incarceration at the Kakata Central Prison

–Magistrate Duncan tells Senate Secretary Singbeh

Days after Magistrate Victoria Worlobah Duncan of the Kakata Magisterial Court in Margibi County, described as insulting to the Judiciary Branch of the Government, the alleged refusal of the Senate President Protempore, Albert T. Chie, to turn the Senate Secretary General Nanborlor Singbeh to the court for prosecution, the magistrate on Friday, September 27, 2019 again issued a 72-hour ultimatum for Singbeh to find a ‘new’ lawyer to represent him in court, because his first lawyer is not qualified to practice law.

Pro Tempore Chie was to allow the Court Sheriff, and two other officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to arrest Singbeh and bring him to court for trial on charges of criminal conspiracy, misapplication of entrusted property and theft of property.

Magistrate Duncan also warned that if Singbeh does not find the lawyer within the given time frame, which expires on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, then she would be left with no other alternatives, but to order Singbeh’s immediate arrest and subsequent incarceration at the Kakata Central Prison.

Duncan’s action was in response to a request by lawyers of the investors, Martin and Pavel Miloschewsky, 70 percent majority owners of a Czech-owned company, MHM Eko-Liberia Incorporated, contending that Singbeh’s lawyer, Cllr. Wiefueh Sayeh, has not been licensed to practice law for 2019 by the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), of which Cllr. Sayeh is a member. Such, deliberate act by Sayeh, Magistrate Ducan said, disqualifies Sayeh from practicing before any court throughout the country.

At Friday’s hearing, Singbeh was nowhere around the court premises, but it was only his lawyer Cllr. Sayeh.

Singbeh’s arrest was based on accusation that he and several other senior members of the management team of the Czech-owned company, MHM Eko-Liberia Incorporated, illegally sold heavy duty earth-moving equipment (caterpillars) and heavy duty trucks worth about US$650,000.

That case was brought by the Attorney-In-Fact of the Czech brothers, Hans Armstrong, a British national, against Singbeh. Singbeh is the president and chairman of the board of directors and a 30% minority shareholder of the ] MHM Eko-Liberia.

In her ruling, Magistrate Duncan said she was convinced by the prosecution’s argument that Sayeh has not paid the LNBA’s yearly due of US$300 to renew his license.

The US$300, Duncan explained, enables every lawyer to obtain a license of “good standing” to be qualified to practice law before any country.

“Sayeh is not qualified to represent Singbeh in this case, because he lacks the moral integrity to do so on grounds that he has failed to pay the bar due since the second week in March 2019,” Duncan said.

Therefore, the Magistrate ruled: “Every legal pleading (documents), including the criminal appearance bond that was secured by the Sky Insurance to prevent Singbeh from being imprisoned as was filed by Cllr. Sayeh on behalf of Singbeh is disqualified.”

Immediately afterward, Magistrate Duncan warned Singbeh to go and find a ‘new’ lawyer in 72 hours’ time to represent him during the case trial, or else he would be arrested and imprisoned until he can comply with the court’s mandate.”

Magistrate Duncan clarified that her action is being backed by the General Rule prescribed by the Supreme Court to govern lawyers’ behavior of the legal profession, and their active participation to the LNBA’s activities.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This so-called “Magistrate Duncan” lady herself, does not seem to be au currant with law. Either that, or she is unwilling to apply the law accordingly on Singbeh for fear of reprisal from the Pro-temp. If Magistrate Duncan pronounces to the whole wide world, for example, that the bond and all records filed with her court on behalf of Sengbeh are inadmissible on grounds that the lawyer who filed the documents is ineligible to practice law in Liberia, and because of nonpayment of bar fee, wouldn’t that be a bridge of covenant by the defense lawyer, thus warranting the immediate arrest and detention of the defendant, Sengbeh, until his bond can be regularized? Could a regular Joe blow be accorded the same laxity or freedom by “Magistrate Duncan,” if their bond were not in order too? This is how some are above the law and by virtue of who they are, while the rest of us are below those same laws. And perhaps “Magistrate Duncan” needs eye glasses next time in order to realize the deliberate absence of the defendant Sengbeh from her courtroom, signifying his continuous contempt for her authority in this case. Is “Magistrate Duncan” even sure, if Sengbeh is still in Liberia, before granting him safe passage to go as far as he wants within the additional 72 hours? How dumb could this other so-called magistrate be as a bona fide dispenser of justice? Lord, forgive us our sins, for we do not know what we’re doing.

  2. Peter Gboyo, the law you are referring to, gives the Magistrate the power to use her discretion to pardon or give the opportunity to find another lawyer. That 72 hours is exactly what the law says. I do not know what these non-Lawyers always want to dictate to Lawyers and the courts what they want done, even when their sentiment is not legal at all. If you think otherwise, go and do the damned Job, the laws are for everyone, the accused and the accusers. Being accused, does not make you guilty.

    • gbala flomo, can you cite the darn law that says a contemptuous defendant as Sengbeh should continue to enjoy the leniency of a court/judge ad infinitum, or for 72 unmerited hours? Was it not this same fugitive Sengbeh that disobeyed this judge initially by running to hide under the desk of the Pro-temp? And this same weasel of a judge has the mendacity to grant him the unmerited mercy of the court, subsequently? Unmerited because the defense lawyer did not even seek that indulgence!! And by the way, the precinct/jurisdiction of a court is where people submit to plead their innocence or guilt. The rest of us as spectators or onlookers can only speculate on the merits or demerits of the instant proceeding based in what we see or hear. Hence the substrate of my musing. Any myopia ascribed thereto is the prerogative of the interpreter, not mine. So get with the program sir.

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