Chief Justice Korkpor to Appoint another Ad hoc Judge

MONROVIA-The recusal of one of the three panel judges presiding over the Commercial Court, on Thursday, February 3, 2022, from further hearing into ongoing Accounting lawsuit involving a Liberian businessman, Amos Brosius, and his partner, the Monrovia Oil Trading Company (MOTC), at the Commercial Court has raised ethical concern about the justice system in the country.

This is because, from the onset of the case, Judge Othello Payman has been fully involved with the matter. Judge Payman had earlier ruled denying Brosius’ argument that the court should account for the three million United States dollars illegally withdrawn from the controversial DUCOL account and entrusted into it custody.

The management of Ducor Petroleum Incorporated is at the center of the accounting lawsuit MOTC brought against Brosius.

Although, the Judiciary Inquiry Commission (JIC), the body constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate complaints of an ethical violation of judges for the past several months has held the Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan of that court of being behind the disappearance of the alleged three million United States dollars and recommended a year of suspension without pay and benefits for Judge Morgan, a finding which the Supreme Court is yet to address till date.

The recent deliberation was intended for Brosius and the MOTC management to meet in a conference with the judges, and address the accounting case, instead of the US$3million, unfortunately, Judge Payman publicly announced his decision to recuse himself from further handling the matter.

Payman claimed that his action stemmed from the relationship that he had with Brosius, which, according to the judge, would conflict with his neutrality to the case, though, he has played a major part in the case.

Some legal pundits believed that Payman’s decision may likely be that of pressure from the Supreme Court and Judge Morgan, who herself had been recused from hearing the matter, due to the JIC’s recommendation.

“I am recusing from the case because of the relationship that I have with one of the parties, Brosius, and if I were to continue with the matter, I will be conflicted, which is a violation of the judicial cannon,” Judge Payman was heard saying, after stepping down from the case.

At the onset of the conference, Brosius had refused to answer a question from the judges, which could have set the basis for further deliberation.

Brosius was asked if he was ready to proceed with the case, but, in response, he said, “no.” while defending his decision, Brosius argued that he is not a lawyer, as such, the conference was scheduled for the direct parties, the MOTC and himself, which, unfortunately, did not happen, because the MOTC party was represented by one of their lawyers, Counselor Abraham Sillah, instead of members of its management team.

The matter came to an end because the act that created the Commercial Court provides that a case that is in the amount of US$1,000,000 or its Liberian dollars equivalent can be heard by the three penal judges.

For this reason, the two other judges agreed to postpone the matter and to communicate with Judge Morgan to likewise inform Chief Justice Francis Korkpor to appoint an Adhoc judge to replace Palma.

This will bring to two the numbers of Adhoc Judges to hear this contentious case. The first Adhoc Judge is the Resident Judge of Criminal Court “A” for Montserrado County, Judge Roosevelt Willie, who was appointed by the Supreme Court to replace the controversial Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan

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