Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice on Monday ruled that Liberian businessman James Cooper is not guilty of the crime of menacing and criminal malevolence brought against him by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson.
On July 30, 2018, a writ of arrest was issued against Cooper by Senator Johnson alleging that on June 4, 2018 the defendant forwarded several text messages through two of his friends, saying that he (Senator Johnson) is a ‘fraudster and incompetent and ineffective to be Senator of Bomi County.
In the text message, he reportedly said “I will deal with him and bring him down…”
During trial defendant Cooper admitted that he did send several text messages to Senator Johnson but those were just figurative expressions.
Presiding Judge Roosevelt Willie stated in his ruling that the record shows that the defendant told the court that the term fraud, dishonest, and ineffective were attributed to Senator Johnson, noting that as a sitting Senator, he should be representing the interest of the citizens, particularly a company that employs more than 150 citizens of the county.
He said it was inappropriate for the Senator to be doing everything to frustrate development in the county through fraudulent and dishonest means, and said the defendant was right to refer to the Senator as such.
Judge Willie also indicated that the intent of the law of menacing as stipulated was not violated by the defendant and, hence, he cannot be guilty thereto.
Judge Willie further pointed out that for the purpose of the ruling from the Magisterial Court as per the crimes of criminal malevolence and menacing, when the magisterial court’s jurisdiction was extended in 2014, all third degree felonies were dropped to first degree misdemeanour with a maximum sentence of one year in prison, while all first degree misdemeanours became second degree misdemeanour with the maximum sentence of four months and second degree misdemeanour dropped to third degree misdemeanour with a prison term of thirty days.
“Therefore, assuming but not admitting that the defendant was guilty of the crime charged, which now is a second degree misdemeanour, the maximum prison term would have been four months instead of one year as pronounced by the magistrate,” Judge Willie noted.
In an interview with reporters, Senator Johnson described Judge Willie as “a compromising Judge,” and wondered why the judge would give such a ruling when he viewed the entire files from the magisterial court.
It was from the final ruling handed down by the Magisterial Court that the lawyer representing the defendant took an appeal to Criminal Court “A” on grounds that they were not satisfied with the court’s ruling and that State lawyers did not prove their case.
It can be recalled that the Magisterial Court at the Temple of Justice through Judge Kennedy Peabody on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 sentenced Liberian businessman Cooper to one year imprisonment at the Monrovia Central Prison on charges of criminal malevolence and menacing against Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, but the sentence was overturned by the higher court for lack of evidence against the defendant.
“In view of the foregoing facts and circumstances and the laws cited, the defendant is hereby adjudged not guilty of the crime of criminal malevolence and menacing as charged, and the ruling from the Magisterial Court is hereby reversed and the defendant is set free,” Judge
Willie said in his ruling.