By Grace Q. Bryant
The Judiciary Inquiry Commission (JIC) has recommended a year-long suspension for the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, Eva Mappy Morgan without pay to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Judge Morgan was undergoing an investigation by the Inquiry Commission from a petition for accounting filed by the Monrovia Trading Company (MOTC) since June 7, 2013, against the complainant claiming that it as majority shareholder in Ducor Petroleum, a company managed by the complainant as the General Manager.
The petition alleged that the complainant failed to account for US$8, OOO, OOO worth of petroleum products supplied to Ducor and on June 17, 2013, the MOTC then made an application for preliminary injunction against the complainant and same was granted by the respondent/judge.
According to the court’s record, the complainant filed his returns to the petition for accounting and a motion to vacate the preliminary injunction, a case respondent Morgan single-handedly presided over and proceeded to entertain several pre-trial conferences which culminated into the agreement of the parties to freeze the accounts of Ducor Petroleum pending the resolution of the matter.
The complainant added that based on the agreement of the parties , the respondent ordered that the accounts of Ducor Petroleum housed at the Liberia Bank for Development and investment (LBDI) and Eco bank Liberia Limited (Ecobank) be frozen.
Upon a request by MOTC to unfreeze the LBDI Account of the Ducor Petroleum in aid of the smooth operations of the company, the respondent gave the unfreezing order and one day later modified that the LBDI’s Account be returned to status quo ante.
‘The JIC considered that the opinion of respondent Morgan violates the fundamental rights of the complainant, Amos P.K. Brosius , the Constitution , Statutes and Judiciary Canons of the Republic of Liberia in all manner and forms and so termed it as egregious, reckless, callous without remorse.
According to the JIC report, the complainant Brosius has suffered or is suffering unimaginable pains, agony and mental distress occasioned by the wanton and reckless disposition of the respondent in the matter of the petition for accounting filed by MOTC against the complainant.
The JIC finding revealed that from the investigation and refuted by the respondent that she presided over the petition for accounting filed by MOTC against the complainant involving the amount US$ 8million as a single judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia runs contrary the Act establishing the court.
However, the JIC advised that the complainant is not precluded by these proceedings to institute action of damages for wrong against the respondent in competent court of Jurisdiction.
The report found that that the respondent was reckless and callous in the matter of the action of debt instituted by the International Bank of Liberia Limited against complainant; that her defense that another Judge of the Commercial Court decided the case is untenable.
Recently in the United States Government 2020 State Department Human Rights Report alleged that the Judicial Branch carries out unethical conduct or malpractice with the issue regarding the chief judge of the Commercial Court who is also the president of the Trial Judges Association a classic example due to her investigation for alleged malpractice before the JIC.
In report under a section titled: “Denial of Fair Public Trial,” it was stated that judges and magistrates were subject to influence and engaged in corruption and that they sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, grant bail to detainees, award damages in civil cases, or acquit defendants in criminal cases.
The report even mentioned how defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes advise defendants to pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors, or to have court staff place cases on the docket for trial.
The report recounted how Judge Morgan was linked to the 2013 communication in which it was alleged that she authorized the withdrawal, without the consent of one of the litigate parties, in the amount of US$3.4 million at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment or LBDI which was believed to have been kept in escrow account pending final determination of a commercial dispute between the Ducor Petroleum Incorporated and the MOTC.
It can be recalled that the judge allegedly unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of more than US$ 3 million from the bank; an investigation which lasted up to the year’s end.
The JIC is an auxiliary group established within the Judiciary with the exclusive power of the authority to receive and investigate complaints against judges for violation of any provision of the judicial canons.