One of the Justices at the ECOWAS Court of Justice from Liberia has with immediate effect has been suspended by the Supreme Court of Liberia for one year or 12 months with his license to practice as a lawyer revoked after been found liable of breaching Rule 8 & 9 of the Moral and Ethical Conduct of Lawyers.
Justice M. Wilkins Wright was suspended after he was found liable of breaching Rule 8 & 9 the Moral and Ethical Conduct of Lawyers by obscuring his lawyer-client relationship with a former client of his while representing the government against the client in his capacity as Solicitor General of Liberia.
Found liable of ethical breach by the Court, Cllr. Wright, while pleading on behalf of the Government of Liberia as Solicitor General, concealed his relationship with his former client, FIDC/Sochor, when at the time, he conceded to a US$15.9 million fraudulent judgment against the Government of Liberia.
He was found liable of the act last Friday, Feb. 17 when the Supreme Court delivered its opinion and final judgment in the case: Messrs. Liberia Mining Corporation (LIMINCO) represented by and through its President, S. Ciapha Gbollie, and Mr. Jonathan Mason, (the Government of Liberia)….. Petitioners; versus His Honor Emery Paye, Assigned Circuit Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, Montserrado County and Messrs.
FIDC, Inc. a duly registered Corporation, under the Liberian laws, represented by its President, shareholder and chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Vladimir Juha and Corporate Secretary, Mrs. Daniela Geohova, with offices in Monrovia, Liberia… Respondents, for a Petition for the Writ of Prohibition filed before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court: “Hence, Counselor M. Wilkins Wright, being in violation of Rules 8 and 9 of the Code of Moral and Ethical Conduct of Lawyers, he is hereby suspended from the practice of law directly and indirectly within the bailiwick of this Republic for a period of twelve (12) calendar months…”
Rule 8: “It is the duty of the lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the client all of the circumstances of his relations to the parties, if there be any and any interest in or connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of the counsel. It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests.”
“Rule 9”: “Within the meaning of this rule, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when, on behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose.
The obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity, and not to divulge his secrets or confidences, forbids also the subsequent acceptance of retainers or employment from others in matters adversely affecting any interest of the client with respect to which confidence has been reposed.”
Cllr. Wright was nominated to the bench of regional court in 2014 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. His ascendency to the Court was a giant step in Liberia’s recognition of the body, as the Supreme Court of Liberia continues to resist subordination to the regional court.
He serves as vice president on the regional bench.
While it is not clear whether or not Cllr. Wright would continue to serve on the bench of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, some legal experts say it is highly likely that that he would be removed.
Serving on the ECOWAS Court is by nomination by the President a member state who is given a slot for nomination. Nominees must be of high moral character, appointed by the Authority of Heads of State of Government, from nationals of Member States, for a four-year term of office, upon recommendation of the Community Judicial council.
The Mandate of the Court is to ensure the observance of law and of the principles of equity and in the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Revised Treat and all other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by Community.
The Supreme Court also held that Judge Emery Paye, then Assigned Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court of Montserrado diverted the course of justice in the case, when he awarded damages the US$15.9 million to FIDC/Juha and against the Government of Liberia on April 20, 2005.
The Court also noted a consistent pattern of misconduct by Judge Paye in violation of several Judicial Canons, and has also been suspended for 12 calendar months.
In the same vein, the High Court divulged Judge Karboi Nuta, whilst serving as Assigned Circuit Judge of the same Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court of Montserrado County, was also adjudged in breach of his sacred duty as a Judge by engaging in acts unbecoming of a Judge and thereby degrading the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary when he made the court a party to the case before him by having the court enter into a contract with a third party for the dale of iron ore and receiving monies therefor in a questionable manner. Judge Nuta’s conduct was also in breach of several Judicial Canons and is also suspended for a period of six calendar months.
During the period of their suspension, the judges shall forfeit their salaries, allowances and other emoluments.
The Supreme Court also expressed its disappointment in Counselors Sayma Syrenius Sephas and Roland F. Dahn for their failure as lawyers to thoroughly review the files of the said case by which means they would have discovered the sham calculated to defraud the Government of Liberia.