“You Can Take Horse to the Water but You Cannot Make It Drink”

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For nearly two months running, British national Hans Armstrong has reportedly been unable to secure lawyers to represent him in a case filed against Judge Roland Dahn for unethical conduct.

According to Mr. Armstrong, quoting a Daily Observer report, call logs show that lawyers representing his opponent Nanborlor Singbeh had called Judge Roland Dahn shortly before the matter was to be heard before him.

And for this, he filed a complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC) alleging unethical conduct against Judge Dahn, his reliance being the Daily Observer report divulging details of the call logs such as time, date and duration of each call.

But let be known to all and sundry at no time ever did the Daily Observer write or call any of the service providers, both Lone Star and Orange, requesting call logs of neither Judge Dahn or any of the lawyers representing Mr. Singbeh as implied by Mr. Armstrong’s submission to the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC).

Further, let it be known also that the Daily Observer, while respecting the law has the obligation to protect its source and shall not, even with bullets pressed against its breasts, shall it compromise the confidentiality of its source.

That said, information gathered by this newspaper shows that current Justice Minister Musa Dean has in the past represented Hans Armstrong as his personal legal counsel and had enjoyed a lawyer-client relationship  up to his (Dean’s) appointment as Justice Minister, according to several lawyers spoken to.

And so the lingering question is just why are lawyers generally refusing to accept requests to provide legal representation for Hans Armstrong.

Some lawyers spoken to earlier, claim that lawyers are reluctant to represent Armstrong for fear of reprisals from Judge Dahn before who they may likely appear in future cases.

But a retired career law enforcement officer and lawyer has told this newspaper that under normal circumstances, cellphone companies will not provide call logs to anyone except on subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction.

Further, he said in the face of outright denials by trial Judge Roosevelt  Willie that he issued a subpoena duces tecum order on cellphone companies to provide call logs  and his subsequent issuance of a Writ of Arrest on Police Superintendent Rafel Wilson and Hans Armstrong on contempt charges for bringing the ‘Court to public ridicule clearly indicates that that the call logs were illegally obtained.

According to a December 3, 2020 report published in the Heritage newspaper, Police Superintendent Rafel Wilson wrote both GSM companies, Orange and Lonestar, ordering them to forward to him, call logs and personal emails between Singbeh, his lawyers and Judge Dahn, which he in turn allegedly turned over to Hans Armstrong.

More to this, Armstrong, according to a story written by  Claudia Smith in the November 6, 2020 edition of the online publication Knewsonline, actual identity is Kinan Sunbol, and is said to be a fugitive from justice in Norway, for whom an Interpol Red Alert has been issued.

This claim has not however been independently verified although Police spokesperson Moses Carter has, according to the same report denied having information confirming that Hans Armstrong is in fact Kinan Sunbol born in Syria to Norwegian parents.

Whatever may the case, the fact remains that Justice Minister Musa Dean, as  Chairman of the Joint Security with direct oversight responsibility for the Liberia National Police has not, to the best of public knowledge, taken action against Police Superintendent Rafel Wilson for his acts which, according to Judge Roosevelt Willie, has brought the Court to public ridicule.

Against this backdrop, according to the retired law enforcement officer and lawyer, it becomes easy to understand why lawyers are reluctant to take up representation on behalf of Hans Armstrong, owing mainly to the fact that the evidence on which his reliance is based was criminally obtained.

Further, according to him, no lawyer worth his salt will readily consent to represent a client based on evidence which has been illegally obtained. Moreover, according to him, consultations with Judges by lawyers is not something out of procedure or abnormal.

And it appears, according to him, that the illegal requisitioning of Call logs, emails, and related information from both GSM companies by a functionary of the Ministry of Justice, on behalf of an individual who has enjoyed a longstanding client-lawyer relationship with Cllr. Musa Dean up to his appointment as Justice Minister, says a lot. 

As he put it, perhaps Justice Minister Musa Dean needs to provide clarity on just how the Republic of Liberia become enjoined as a party to a case involving private individuals, especially in view of the fact that he had up to his appointment as Justice Minister enjoyed a lawyer-client relationship with Hans Armstrong.

Just how this long-running drama is going to play out, in the final analysis, remains unclear. The Judicial Inquiry Committee can call on lawyers to represent Armstrong, however, it cannot force them to do so.

From the look of things, the old saying that, “you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink”, appears to be the case in this situation.

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