… After having received an official complaint of secret conversation between the Circuit Judge and other party litigants
Immediately after the Resident Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit, in Nimba County admitted that he personally had been in communication with the Senate Secretary, Nanborlor Singbeh, whose case the judge is currently handling, a complaint of judicial misconduct has been filed before the office of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor by a British national, Hans Armstrong, who is seeking for his concern to be decided in an expeditious manner.
Judge Dahn is accused by Armstrong of unethical conduct in the form of communicating with Nanbolor Signbeh and Chapman Logan, who are the private prosecutors in a case pending before the Judge, in which Armstrong said he is the defendant.
Both Sinbgeh and Logan have claimed that Armstrong allegedly stole two machines, valued at US$650,000 belonging to MHM Eko Liberia Inc, a company whose majority owners are from the Czech Republic. However, Armstrong is the attorney-in-fact for said majority shareholders, Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky.
Recently, in an interview via mobile phone from Nimba County, Judge Dahn told Judicial reporters he spoke directly with the Sinbgeh.
“I remembered discussing with him and I told him to discuss with his lawyer. He knows me and I know him and once someone knows you, he or she can call you.” Judge Dahn said, adding, “It’s true that I communicated with him, but not often.”
Surprisingly, the calls log that bears evidence of contact between Judge Dahn, Sinbgeh and Logan, claimed that since January of this year, and prior to the discovery of the leaked calls log in March 2020, there has been no phone or text messages exchanges between the trio.
But, in his letter dated October 29, 2020, Armstrong claimed Judge Dahn was in constant communication with Chapman Logan and Nanbolor Singbeh, who are his (Armstrong’s) adversaries in the case that is pending before the judge.
“I cannot consider him to be a neutral judge in my case, as his conduct has made me to harbor fear about the outcome of my case, if he continues to preside over it,” Armstrong’s letter argued.
“More than that, I believe that he must be made to account for this kind of behavior because it undermines the integrity of the judiciary and creates a deem view of everyone who serves in the court system of Liberia.” Appealing to have Judge Dahn investigated, Armstrong added, “I am humbly filing this complaint about Judge Dahn for his unethical conduct of communicating with Nanbolor Signbeh and Chapman Logan, who are the private prosecutors in a case pending before him, in which I am the defendant.”
Armstrong’s letter also claimed that on Thursday, March 26, 2020, Logan called Judge Dahn at about 16:56 p.m. By then, the letter said, “Judge Dahn did not answer the phone call. And, again, the same March 26, Logan called Judge Dahn by 16:59 p.m., again there was no answer.” Armstrong also claimed that since Judge Dahn did not respond to Logan’s call, it was when Sinbgeh on the same March 26, chose to call Judge Dahn by 17:03 p.m. “They spoke for 11 seconds. On the same date, March 26, Judge Dahn called Logan at 17:54 p.m., they spoke for 174 seconds, equal to 2.9 minutes,” Armstrong alleges in his complaint letter.
Armstrong also claimed that, “These communications were made four days to the assignment date for the hearing of the Motion to strike for lack of good standing against the government lawyers, Cllr. Pato Jaber, County Attorney of Nimba County and Attorney Theophilus Gbeadawo of Detho and Associates, on grounds that neither of the said lawyers had paid their bar association dues nor paid for his professional license for the year 2020.”
The calls, Armstrong alleges, led to the rescheduling of hearing to March 30, 2020.
Again, Armstrong further claimed that on April 3, 2020, Singbeh sent a text message to Judge Dahn at 09:24 am before the Judge’s ruling.
“And, after Dahn’s ruling on that day, the judge replied Singbeh’s text message at 12:58 p.m., apparently to inform him that the objection was denied.”
Giving synopsis of the case that was filed against him by the government in his letter,
Armstrong claimed that on March 3, 2020, he (Armstrong) was indicted by the 8th Judicial Circuit Court, in Nimba County, for allegedly committing the crimes of Theft of Property and Forgery, even though the crimes were allegedly committed in a different jurisdiction, the 13th Judicial Circuit in Kakata, Margibi County, while he, now the defendant with Sinbgeh and Logan as private prosecutors reside in different jurisdictions, Montserrado and Magribi counties, respectively. But, Judge Dahn refused to accept the argument of his lawyer, Cllr. Gongloe, for a change of venue due to the lack of jurisdiction.
Again, Armstrong claimed in his communication that on Mach 30, Cllr. Gongloe made a submission, objecting to the representation of the two prosecuting attorneys, Cllr. Jaber and Attorney Gbeadawo, on ground that neither of the said lawyers had paid their Bar Association dues nor paid their professional licenses for the year 2020.
In resistance to the objection, the prosecutors informed the court that Atty. Gbeadow had paid his bar due and license for the year 2019/2020 but needed time to prove that fact to the court and that for County Attorney, Pato Jaber, the Ministry of Justice normally pays; hence, he needed time to ascertain that fact.
In ruling on the objection, the court ruled as follows:
“It is the law in this jurisdiction that every lawyer that appears before court, whether in person or through pleading must be licensed to practice and that no lawyer in this jurisdiction is allowed to practice before court unless he is licensed to do so, the failure of which may disqualify him or her as well as all pleadings made by him or her.” The judge went further to say, “In order to ensure that the information provided by both counsels is correct, this matter will be suspended and the counsels are given four days from today to produce their licenses for the year 2020. Meanwhile, this matter is reassigned for Friday, April 3, 2020, at the hour of 10:00 A.M.”
“When the matter was called on Friday, April 3, 2020, Cllr. Pato Jaber, County Attorney produced a receipt that showed that he paid his bar due on March 31, 2020, one day after my lawyer’s objection to him,” Armostrong explained in his letter. Cllr. Jaber, also produced a receipt that showed that he paid for his professional license on April 1, 2020, two days after the objection. The associating private lawyer, Attorney Theophillus Gbeadaow only produced a receipt showing that he paid his bar due on the morning of April 3, 2020, four days after the objection; but show no evidence that he had paid for his professional license for the year 2020.
“From the foregoing, one does not have to be a lawyer to know that on the day my lawyer objected, the two lawyers were not in compliance with the law.” Armstrong argued. “In my view, as a layman, it was clear admission by the lawyers themselves that they were not in compliance. “
“Surprisingly, the judge denied the objection made by my lawyer saying, ‘This court says and the law provides that a statute does not toll against the Republic…’. At first, as a layman, I thought that the judge was acting on the basis of his understanding of the law and his sound judicial discretion, although, my lawyer had told me that the judge made a mistake and that he was going to file a motion for the judge to rescind his ruling,” Armostrong said.