Should the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Judiciary Suspend Cllr. Cephus’ Law License?

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By: Kadiker Rex Dahn, PhD

Background

The Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus’ utterances of recent especially on the Ellen Corkrum case seems to be convoluted with deceptive undertone. I am not a lawyer but in almost all serious professions, the legal not an exception have ethics that every licensed lawyer should honor. When a licensed lawyer begins to use words that may have deceptive undertone, it becomes absolutely necessary that the Watch Dog of such profession take a closer look at such a lawyer.

In the Liberian context, the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Judiciary plays such a role. The perceived duplicitous utterances of Cllr. Cephus in the Corkrum’s case require immediate remedial action. The Solicitor General choice of word like “tactics” employed to bring Corkrum to Liberia is worrisome and seems deception was at play. We urge the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Judiciary to expeditiously investigate the Cllr. Syrenius Cephus for his role in the Corkrum’s case and if ethics violation established, suspend his law license.

Discussions

As stated above, I am not a lawyer and will not attempt to be one. Legal issues must be discussed and dealt with by people who have authority in the legal field. The honorable men and women who are serving on the Grievance and Ethics Committee and other legal minds have such authority. While it is true that I am not a lawyer and cannot speak directly on legal issues, I admit that I have some serious reservation and in fact in this public manner question the honesty and choice of word of the Solicitor General.

The case involving Corkrum on the periphery may appear like the Solicitor General is just and therefore anxious to administer justice. But based on the utterances of the Solicitor General, it seems prudent to conclude that the form and manner in which he has conducted himself thus far has been questionable and it seems justice in the traditional sense of the word may not be the motive. We made this claim because, according to the Daily Observer, Vol.20, No. 28 published February 14, 2020, the Solicitor General may have been more concerned about the legal fees Corkrum owes him over against actually administering fair justice.

Daily Observer wrote: “However, a source told this paper Cllr. Cephus and Corkrum rift started when she allegedly refused to pay Cephus his balance US$15,000 out of the US$25,000 Cephus charged Corkrum to serve as additional counsel to her case. The source claimed Corkrum paid Cephus US$10,000 and promised to pay the balance if she were to agree to come back home, which she did. However, according to our source, Corkrum allegedly refused to pay to settle her obligation with the Solicitor General that necessitated her case being call to re-on {re-open} though Cephus’s boss Justice Minister Musa Dean, who himself previously served as one of Corkrum’s counsel, claimed that he was not in the know about the initial dropping of the case and the subsequent communication with the LACC to re-open investigation into the matter.”

We ask, could it be that Corkrum’s alleged refusal to pay the balance due Cephus prompted the re-opening of the case? If the answer is affirmative, it seems to us also that the Solicitor General may not equally have been inclined to fight corruption instead wants to use his position to fight his own fight. If this alleged claim is true, the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Judiciary must ensure that the rule of law is upheld. Certainly, Cllr Cephus’ utterance in the Corkrum’s case is disturbing and if true, may undermine the rule of law in favor of shenanigans.

Daily Observer again wrote: “Corkrum returned to Liberia shortly after Cllr. Cephus was appointed and confirmed as solicitor general. Her return, Cephus boasted was a result of many tactics to ensure that Corkrum came back to Liberia to face justice.”

Whether justice in forcing Corkrum to pay Cephus’s alleged balance or truly to a fight against corruption, is a determination the Grievance and Ethics Committee will make. However, our attention is drawn to the Solicitor General’s choice of word which we believe contained some form of deception. The quote above informs us that the Solicitor General boasted of playing many “tactics” to have Corkrum come to Liberia to face justice.

Etymologically, the word tactic has it early origin in Greek (taktikos), a military maneuver used against enemy. In most instances, maneuver, is manipulative designed to conquer someone or something in order to achieve an end.In the English language, maneuver is synonymous to tactic. Another disturbing synonym of tactic is trick. Trick is defined as a cunning or skillful act or scheme intended to deceive someone. Holding constant the synonymous definitions, it is quite disturbing for such word like tactic to come from the prosecutorial arm of a sitting government.

We ask, is it legal, compulsory, mandatory and necessary for a solicitor general to trick someone in order to administer justice?

We are told that Corkrum is a United States’ citizen and Major in the Air Force. If these assertions are true, can anyone in their right mind think that the United States will allow her citizen to be tried in a questionable and manipulative judicial system where some actors play tricks on their clients? Judicial credibility and the credibility of those who administer justice are being scrutinized by national and international actors. It is therefore prudent that those who find themselves in the corridor of judicial canon conduct and behave in line with the law. Anything on the contrary diminishes trust and further damages the nation’s reputation at both the national and international levels.

Serpent tricked Adam and Eve

The word trick, in whatever form one considers, is detrimental. Biblical narrative tells us how the Serpent tricked Adam and Eve in disobeying God. One can deduce that the utterance of the Liberian Solicitor General in the Corkrum’s case if concluded by the Grievance and Ethics Committee to be a violation is tantamount to how the Serpent fooled Adam and Eve. It was a clever maneuver by the Serpent to accomplish its deceptive goal. Equally so, it was a clever and deceptive attempt by the Solicitor General to have Corkrum return to Liberia.

Conclusion

Be as it may, it seems to us that the nation’s judicial image of credibility in dispensing justice maybe injured and tainted. The form and manner in which the Judicial Branch has conducted itself in this George Weah’s administration has been troubling to say the least. The unconstitutional impeachment of Justice Ja’neh and the Executive Branch’s intrusion into judicial matters have equally damaged the legal image of Liberia. With such dark picture of our country, we cannot completely lose hope neither can we perpetually continue with such practice.

To right the many wrongs, build national and international reputation, we urge the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Judiciary to penalize Cllr Cephus who thinks he is untouchable for his many double-dealing utterances. The warning to Cllr Cephus by the Liberia National Bar Association is instructive for the theme under discussion.

According to Daily Observer Vol. 20.N0.11 published on January 20, 2020, the LNBA in a press release stated, “LNBA will not tolerate any violation of the rights of lawyers in the execution of the professional obligations to their clients by the Solicitor General or any official of government and reminds Cllr. Cephus to always take cognizance of section 12.70 of the Penal Law, which they argue, prohibits the abuse of power.” We urge the Grievance and Ethics Committee not to allow itself to be manipulated by the Executive Branch when wrong is clearly established. As a custodian of ethics and integrity of the Judicial Branch, again, we urge the Grievance and Ethics Committee to set the record straight by probing Cllr Cephus and if found guilty suspend his Law License.

About the Author:

Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He served as Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected].

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