Luck ran out of self-style lawyer Rudolph Hightower on Thursday, October 11, while arguing a summary proceeding application for one of his clients against Magistrate Quincy A.Q. Garnett of the Bensonville Magisterial Court in Montserrado County. Judge Boima Kontoe of Criminal Court ‘B’ at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia suspected that Hightower was not a lawyer, and therefore ordered his immediate arrest.
Judge Kontoe later surrendered Hightower to the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice where he was identified by others as a “fake lawyer” and subsequently handcuffed and forwarded to the Monrovia Central Prison to await his trial for impersonation, because he could not find anyone to secure his bail to prevent him from going to jail.
Hightower fell into Judge Kontoe’s trap after Magistrate Garnett had ruled in favor of William K. Desdouman and Evelyn Magee, who had earlier brought a criminal trespass case against one of Hightower’s client in person of Emmanuel Kangar.
Not being satisfied with Magistrate Garnett’s ruling, Hightower filed a petition before Kontoe for summary proceedings against the magistrate but, he was thereafter identified to be a “fake law practitioner.”
Garnett ruled that William K. Desdouman and Evelyn Magee should go back to work, despite Hightower’s argument that the property in question was still in dispute, given the jurisdictional problem between Margibi and Montserrado counties.
Hightower had argued that the land was in Margibi County, and not Montserrado County, which Garnett had denied, thereby prompting the summary proceedings case for Kontoe to review Garnett’s judgment.
Besides, Hightower had earlier asked Magistrate Garnett to subpoena the Liberia Land Authority (LAA), which he argued, has power to investigate land-related disputes, including boundary matters; but Magistrate Garnett refused to accept it.
At Thursday’s hearing, Hightower, dressed in a self-made legal suit, went to the court as counsel for Kangar in his case of summary proceeding against Garnett.
During the hearing, Hightower rose and introduced himself as counsel for Kangar only to start throwing wrong legal jargon in the courtroom from where he was identified as a “fake lawyer,” because his language and conduct pricked the ears of Judge Kontoe and other lawyers, among them some senior court staffs.
He was asked as to when he completed law school, his license, and other documents to prove he was a lawyer. But he failed to provide answer to any of the questions. Rather, he claimed that he was a graduate of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia and was a member of the Margibi County Bar Association.
Hightower could not defend his statement when Judge Kontoe further pressed him.
Shortly afterward, Kontoe ordered the Monrovia City Court to arrest and further investigate him, promising that he would ensure Hightower was prosecuted, because he has been one of those damaging the good image of the legal profession.
This made it the first time a fake lawyer is being ordered arrested by a Judge of any of the circuit courts in the country. “Hightower has been in this illegal law practice and on the game for over 10 years, accruing thousands of United States dollars out of his scam,” Kontoe said.
He also reiterated his warning that he would scrutinize individuals claiming to be members of the legal profession and practicing before him.
“Hightower is neither a lawyer nor has he been called to the bar; he is a mere criminal,” Judge Kontoe declared.