Judge Gbeisay ‘Erred’ in GW Bribery Case

- Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks

17
2032

By Abednego Davis

Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks yesterday reversed Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s judgment that denied marking permanent the alleged Global Witness emails and spreadsheets as evidence, describing it as an “error.”

Judge Gbeisay, who was then presiding over the bribery case involving Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and several present and past government officials, denied marking the evidences permanent unless Mr. Heine van Niekerk, a South African and executive of Sable Mining, a UK mining company, believed to be the author of the documents, comes to Liberia to testify about their authenticity.

Van Niekerk’s document allegedly outlined how Sherman, who was Sable’s Liberian lawyer, received US$950,000 from the company to be used as bribes and distributed it among the defendants that included former House Speaker Alex Tyler.

The intent of the money was to allegedly influence the public officials to change a portion of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act that was then before lawmakers, so as to award the mining company the concession right to the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County without going through any competitive bidding process.

“The allegations contained in a sworn affidavit sought to be marked as grave and it touches the nerve center of this case from a distance,” Gbeisay’s decision said.

Reversing Gbeisay’s judgment yesterday, Justice Banks said he should have treated the emails and spreadsheets “at a level at which he believes they may have been worthy or whether they are to be given any worthiness or credence or whether they should be accorded any credibility from all of the surrounding circumstances.”

He said Gbeisay cannot exclude them from the report on the grounds that they are hearsay.

Gbeisay’s judgment that he was doubtful of the information contained in the documents until the maker appeared to testify to its authenticity was erroneous, Justice Banks said.
“We wonder if Judge Gbeisay was deciding the case at this point since his concern was to the truthfulness of the allegation contained in the affidavit rather than the relevance of such allegation to the disposition of the issue before him that was the bribery case,” he said.

“In spite of the fact that members of the team who conducted the investigation were produced and testified to the documents, it was a clear error on the part of the judge, because it was legal and prudent for Gbeisay to have marked the emails and spreadsheet permanently,” Justice Banks declared.

Moreover, the justice explained “he did not see that the delivery of the documents to the state by a person who was legally in possession of said documents can be a violation of any of the constitutional rights of the defendants.”

“The state was authorized to do whatsoever they wanted to do with such documents as they pleased, including rights to privacy or against searches and seizures, and the release of such document to its investigation team did not require an order of the court to make the transfer illegal,” Banks emphasized.

Before yesterday’s decision, the prosecution had argued that emails and spreadsheets were the products and part of the report of its Special Investigation Team set up by the government to investigate the allegations made in the Global Witness report.

They claimed that the team collected the testimony from van Niekerk in his native South Africa, where he produced the documents on the basis of immunity from prosecution.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. ON THE CONTRARY, ITS JUSTICE BANKS WHO HAVE ERRED AND NOT JUDGE GBEISAY!!!

    Just as the government has set up a “Special Investigation Team” to investigate the allegations made in the Global Witness report bribery case, WHY the government HAS REFUSED TO set up a Special Investigating Team to investigate the violation of the constitution, impersonating, and perjury, allegations made against Jerome George Korkoyah the so called Chairman of the National Election Commission.

    The very fact the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government is giving no attention to the Jerome Korkoyah´s violation of the laws and the constitution, his impersonation as a Liberian, and his criminal offense of perjury, makes clear the Sable Mining Bribery Case is simply a witch hunt against those she perceives as her personal enemies.

    And this should give any competent judge the reason (as Judge Gbesay did) to be concerned about “THE TRUTHFULLNESS of the allegation contained in the affidavit RATHER THAN THE MERE RELEVANCE OF THE ALLEGATION.

    NO COMPETENT JUDGE STABS IN THE DARK AT THE TRUTH. AND THIS IS EXACLY WHAT JUSTICE BANKS WANTS JUDGE GBEISAY TO DO –STAB IN THE DARK LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH WHEN THE TRUTH CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF THE ALLEGATION AND NOT NECESSARILY THE RELEVANCE WHICH SHOULD ONLY BE DETERMINED BY THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF THE ALLEGATION!

    As Justice Banks said “Judge Gbeisay should have treated the emails and spreadsheets “at a level at which he believes they may have been worthy or whether they are to be given any worthiness or credence or whether they should be accorded any credibility from all of the surrounding circumstances.” And this is exactly what Judge Gbeisay did, except as it now appears, Justice Banks wants or wanted Judge Gbeisay to believe what he Banks or the government and its witnesses believe, BUT NOT WHAT HE JUDGE GBEISAY BELIEVES!!!

    Whether Judge Gbeisay was deciding the case at that point (as Justice Banks wonders) was as is now immaterial in the eyes of justice and fairness.

    For while it is true the government is the accuser and not necessarily Mr. Heine van Niekerk, or Global Witness, a judge´s determination of worthiness or the according of credibility of emails and spreadsheets must be done by, through and with “all the surrounding circumstances” (as Justice Banks himself declares), or highly likely surrounding circumstances; such of which could be:.

    (1)entrapment by the accuser a witch-hunting government lacking integrity.
    (2) illegal obtainment of evidence,
    (3) not to mention the fact that these emails and spreadsheets are being produced by an investigating team of a government on record of dubiousness and untrustworthiness simply claiming that its Special Investigating Team collected the testimony from van Niekerk in his native South Africa, where he produced the documents on the basis of immunity from prosecution. OR:
    (4)an outright made-up scheme by the government in conspiracy with Mr. Heine van Niekerk, or Global Witness made possible by the prevalent terror of the internet used by terrorists and despotic leaders and governments today against their targets–Ellen Johnson Sirleaf´s personal political enemies.

    Thus, on the contrary, it is Justice Philip AOZ Banks who have erred and has given a bias ruling, for according to the fairness principle, in the courtroom, no one or entity, shall benefit by his or its own wrong.

    And this is precisely what is happening here — Simply because the accuser is the government, a judge should be compelled to be concerned about THE RELEVANCE OF THE ALLEGATION RATHER THAN AND INSTEAD OF “THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF THE ALLEGATION WHEN:

    THE ALLEGATION IS MERELY BASED ON CLAIMS BY THE GOVERNMENT THE ACCUSER THAT ITS SPECIAL INVESTIGATING TEAM collected the testimony from van Niekerk in his native South Africa, where he produced the documents on the basis of immunity from prosecution, AND IS UNWILLING TO APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGE AND THE COURT OF LAW WITH ABSOLUTELY NO SUBSTANTIAL REASON.

    NO COMPETENT JUDGE STABS IN THE DARK AT THE TRUTH. AND THIS IS EXACLY WHAT JUSTICE BANKS WANTS JUDGE GBEISAY TO DO –STAB IN THE DARK LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH WHEN THE TRUTH CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF THE ALLEGATION AND NOT NECESSARILY THE RELEVANCE WHICH SHOULD ONLY BE DETERMINED BY THE TRUTHFULLNESS OF THE ALLEGATION!

  2. WRIT OF CERTIORI, REVIEW GBEISAY’S RULE GRANTED! REVIEW DEMONSTRATED ATTEWMPT BY GBEISAY TO CIRCUMVENT LAW TO FREE HIS BOYZ! NAH IT’S TIME TO LINE GBEISAY UP FOR ORLOR REVIEW – “FLOGGIN REVIEW!”

  3. Justice Banks is so bias in his rulings that he delibetately disregards the CONFRONTATION CLAUSE OF ARTICLE 21 H OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION – A CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION WHICH GIVES THE DEFENDANTS THEIR RIGHT TO CONFRONT FACE TO FACE THESE SO CALLED WITNESSES FROM WHOM THE GOVERNMENT COLLECTED THEIR EVIDENCES. WHAT A MISCARRIAGE AND DENIAL OF JUSTICE ON THE PART OF JUSTICE PHILIP AZ BANKS!!

    • K.Z; EXACTLY! THANKS AGAIN. THE HONORABLE JUDGE; PHILIP A.Z. BANKS, HAS PUT HIMSELF ABOVE THE CONSTITUTION OF LIBERIA. SIMPLY WRONG! THE JUDGE IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW. HIS DECISION SHOULD BE THROUGHLY REVIEW BY LIBERIA’S LEGAL SCHOLARS. AS PER JUSTICE BANKS, WE ARE NOW AT A POINT; IN LIBERIA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM, WHEN WITNESSES IN CRIMINAL CASES ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED TO APPEAR IN COURT, TO BE QUESTIONED AND CROSS EXAMINED.

  4. Thanks Mr. Zoedjallah for the last comment, it does hit the nail right on the soft tissues of the head for a deadly blow.

    To start with, Justice Banks’ ruling should’ve preceded publicly kicking Judge Gbeissay off the case and replacing him with Judge Kabba. It demonstrates a surfeit of an aspect of judicial temperament, “the ability to apply the law to the facts… as well as the willingness to listen to and consider what is said on all sides of a debatable proposition”. Even without going into the merits of the ruling, except when they commit a crime, virtuous leadership dictates that we praise subordinates in public, and reprimand them in private.

    So what was the mighty hurry in this case, especially when allegedly $USD millions of national wealth are stolen monthly, which precluded it from being adjourned until Banks come to this determination before disgracing a judge who has to serve elsewhere in the country? Ouch, my bad, Aunty Ellen demands a verdict prior to the October elections. Anyway, we have seen Banks pro – Ellen zealotry on the bench before.

    For example, first, his tug of war with Justice Minister Tar in the case of Dr. Chris Toe versus Rodney Sieh, and, second, the war of words between him and NEC lawyers in a scheme to postpone the confirmation of Sherman’s Senate victory during the Special Senate race. The scary part is that whether it was the tussle with the ECOWAS Court for the $USD 500, 000 belonging to a Nigerian his command reportedly confiscated and spent without court order, or tormenting AG Tar for granting humanitarian release from jail to a sick Rodney Sieh not a flight risk, Justice Banks believed in the infallibility of his opinions and actions, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

    The truth is that he may be a brilliant lawyer, however, the highest court in the land requires “intelligence and modesty” more than brilliance. His reported egotism makes one wonder whether he has “respect for the Supreme Court”, another requirement for Supreme Court applicants; particularly, a bench whose members he taught in law school. Banks reminds us of what former members of the US Supreme Court said of their colleague Justice Felix Frankfurter, “He may have been one of the brightest to ever go on the bench, but his ego was larger than himself that colleagues were turned off by his antics.” And it is a habit which contradicts “collegiality on the bench”, another job essential.

    Most importantly, Banks supposedly unapologetic partisan kowtowing makes mockery of fairness, and impartiality. After all, he isn’t by himself going to enact new laws, amend old ones, or establish new precedents. Anything meaningful a justice of the Supreme Court does needs the concurrence, or contribution of others. Obviously, no institution in a polarized Liberia ought to show more objectivity than the Supreme Court; thus if citizens believe that justices play favorites trust is irreparably damaged. No wonder, then, a lack of it drives the belief that the judiciary is corrupt.

    Ellen may not care about that (like she doesn’t care whether pervasive poverty is killing off some of her most vulnerable fellow citizens) as long as her vengeful agendas are handled. But we can’t continue on this path, and until citizens show that they aren’t flatterers change won’t come. This means that the perceived partisanship antics of a loose cannon on the Supreme Court bench is not an isolated issue. Because trust between governors and governed is the bond that holds society together, even in a Liberia where seemingly the center cannot hold.

    Well, may be the barrel of guns would restore trust, or better still “hold” the “center” with explosives.

  5. A wonderful and laudest thank you to Justice Philip A.Z. Banks. Besides being a true Liberian,
    Justice Banks is also a man of no no nonsense Juris Prudence in the Liberian Judicial system
    on whom we can rely. Again, I say BRAVO! to Justice Philip A.Z. Banks~!

  6. Tarlue, it is only during such an irresponsible administation that Philip Banks or a character as philip Banks could be appointed on a Supreme Court’s Bench. THIS IS WHY ECOWAS REJECTED PHILIP BANKS AFTER TAKING INTO ACCOUNT HIS ROBBERY RECORD. Banks was only made justice minister because the two people Ellen and Amos Sawyer who appointed him are as worst as him in terms of morals and lawfulness. Not that Banks does not know that the attainment of the truth or justice of the allegation cannot be attained without the implementation of the confrontational clause of article 21 h of the constitution as Judge Gbeisay insist, but Banks a morally and lawfully bankrupt criminal must do Ellen’s bidding as he POLUTES THE SUPREME COURT’S BENCH.

  7. Philips Banks wants judge Gbeisay to legitimize and legalize the government’s fake evidence. The very fact that they are claiming that they are flouting the confrontation clause of article 21 h of the constitution; and saying their witness Heine van Nerkek cannot appear in court and have asked for immunity, SMELLS and tells they actually have no case against the defendants.

  8. The very fact that they are claiming their emails and spreadsherts should be ” marked permanent” and they are flouting the confrontation clause, is what should have been written in the second sentence.

  9. Sò this is why Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s stooge Chief Justice Francis Korkpor all of a sudden and unexpectedly decided to remove the fearless, objective, and indep!endent, minded judge Judge Yemie Gbeisay from the case by reassigning him in Margibi County to make way for a KANGAROO JUDGE IN A KANGAROO COURT replacing the Criminal Court C and its competent judge His Honor Yemie Gbeisay!

    Now the new judge is ecpected to adjudicate not in obedience to the constitution but rather adjudìcate to the unconstitutional dictates of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf!

  10. So our criminal justice system or its judicial process is now one in which all one or the government has to do to have another convicted is prepare a fake documentation and complain to a court that it is an evidence against so so and so person. And the judge WITHOUT BEEN CONVINCED ABOUT THE AUTHENTICITY, TRUISM, OR CONSTITUTIONAL VAIDITY, of the documentation, marks the document as permanent even when the so xalled witness from whom the document is provided cannot be seen in court to satisfy THE CONFRONTATION CLAUSE – THE SINE QUA NON OF MEETING THE STANDARD OF PROOF” BEYOND ALL REASONABLE DOUBTS” for conviction or aquittal!

  11. Mr. Kandajaba Z. Zoedjallah, all the Judge Gbeisay has to was to call those individuals who deposed
    the Affidavit in the GW bribery case if he felt to authenticate it. But to say that it can not be believed
    is not the way to go. Any case that has an external connection, the Court or the Judge has the power
    to authenticate any external pleading that come before it or him.

    Take, for instance, in international business transaction, do you believe in guaranteed notarized statements on documents that accompanied shipping of goods and accepted them and bought
    the goods? The only qualm that the deposed Affidavit should have is, if it is not notarized. If
    that is true that deposed Affidavit is not notarized, the Court or the Judge has an extensive
    power to place a call to Mr. Heine Van Niekerk and speak with him. Simple as that. But to
    outrightly disallow those evidence is indeed disengenuine and will contribute nothing done to
    corruption in that tiny country- Liberia. All Liberians must mobilize to fight including the Judges
    against corruption. Can anyone tell me when will corruption ends in Liberia?

    The Global Witness Case is, indeed, a very serious one. If you do not who all behind the Global
    Witness, do your research and you will agree that Liberia trial of the GW bribery case, when it
    comes to a successful end, Liberia will open to receive international aids for developments in the
    country. If Liberia loosely handles that case and it ends in that way, the country is up to be
    blocked from international aids to develop.

    Let me end by saying this; any legal documents from outside of a country must one thing and
    one thing only in order to make it legally acceptable: “Notarization.” I am sure the Affidavit
    deposed by Mr. Heine Van Kiekerk was notarized. Why then must Judge Gbeisay disallowed it?

  12. P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. June 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Mr. Kandajaba Z. Zoedjallah, all the Judge Gbeisay has to was to call those individuals who deposed
    the Affidavit in the GW bribery case if he felt to authenticate it. But to say that it can not be believed
    is not the way to go. Any case that has an external connection, the Court or the Judge has the power
    to authenticate any external pleading that come before it or him.

    Take, for instance, in international business transaction, do you believe in guaranteed notarized statements on documents that accompanied shipping of goods and accepted them and bought
    the goods? The only qualm that the deposed Affidavit should have is, if it is not notarized. If
    that is true that deposed Affidavit is not notarized, the Court or the Judge has an extensive
    power to place a call to Mr. Heine Van Niekerk and speak with him. Simple as that. But to
    outrightly disallow those evidence is indeed disengenuine and will contribute nothing done to
    corruption in that tiny country- Liberia. All Liberians must mobilize to fight including the Judges
    against corruption. Can anyone tell me when will corruption ends in Liberia?

    The Global Witness Case is, indeed, a very serious one. If you do not who all behind the Global
    Witness, do your research and you will agree that Liberia trial of the GW bribery case, when it
    comes to a successful end, Liberia will open to receive international aids for developments in the
    country. If Liberia loosely handles that case and it ends in that way, the country is up to be
    blocked from international aids to develop.

    Let me end by saying this; any legal documents from outside of a country must one thing and
    one thing only in order to make it legally acceptable: “Notarization.” I am sure the Affidavit
    deposed by Mr. Heine Van Kiekerk was notarized. Why then must Judge Gbeisay disallowed it?
    It was factually wrong for him to do so!

  13. Mr. P. Allison Tarlue Sr.,

    When a judge discovers an evidence whether relevant or irrelevant IS INTENDED TO MISLEAD the jury, the judge, and or the court in toto, MOST ESPECIALLY A HEARSAY EVIDENCE-the one being produced by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government, IT IS THE DUTY OF THE JUDGE TO EXCLUDE SUCH AN EVIDENCE.

    And this is exactly what Judge Gbeisay should have done; and thank God Almighty that is exactly what he did as sanctioned by the rules viz the admissability of evidence.

    An irresponsible government can only be tricky thinking it is being cleaver. But of course it can never be wise! And this is why they can only MAKE A CASE ON THE BASIS OF HEARSAY!

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