The Ghost of the May 10th, 2021, JIC Report Looms Large In Judge Eva-Mae Mappy Morgan’s Investigation
It has been more than two years since the Judiciary under Chief Justice Francis S. Korpor has struggled to bring finality to the investigation of Her Honor Judge Eva-Mae Mappy Morgan for an ethical breach complaint lodged by Mr. Amos T. K. Brosius. Through it all, the learned and respected judge has had her life kept in suspense, her reputation dragged in the mud, and made a subject of foreign embassy briefs in a derogatory manner – but yet the case lingers, and nobody seems to care about what toil it is taking on the life of their colleague.
Let us take a cursory look at some key misrepresentations underlying this case. First, Mr. Brosius was and is not the owner of Ducor Petroleum. He was a minority (10%) shareholder of record and an employee at that. MoTC owed the majority 90% share. So, it is wrong, or it is a purposeful misrepresentation to insinuate that any funds of Ducor Petroleum, made a subject of this complaint, was 100% Brosius, for which he is claiming to have been defrauded. This insinuation should have been nipped from the get-go, but those investigating allowed it to fester and grow wrings for reasons that do not appear to be judicious.
Second, there was and there is no US$3 million in dispute, or that ever came under the control of Judge Mappy. The amount alleged was uncollected accounts receivable that predated the formation of the Commercial Court which was created by statute in September 2010 and became operational in 2011. There was no US3 Million in any bank at any time before or during this trial presided over by Judge Mappy – none whatsoever. This other insinuation should also have been nipped from the very beginning but then again it was allowed to linger.
Third, Judge Mappy did not directly or indirectly withdraw any money from Mr. Brosius or MOTC Account as is being insinuated. See the JIC report/letter to the Chief Justice dated May 10, 2021. This unwarranted unending investigation is specifically to the detriment of Judge Mappy, Associate professor at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, and author of a textbook on Legal Ethics. It is about time to end the lynching.
Fourth, this matter was a matter of proper accounting, for the benefit of Mr. Brosius who had in his possession seven checks, he was hesitant to deposit. The seven checks were deposited. The records show that even two were returned for insufficient funds. However, and in order that the operations Ducor petroleum were not disrupted, MOTC the 90% shareholder of Ducor petroleum issued a check to cover the US212,704.36, the sum total of the seven checks. This amount was encashed and escrowed. The records show that almost all of the escrowed amount was used for the conduct of the audit conducted. Therefore, reports that this amount is unaccounted for by the Judge are not simply an error, they are malicious.
Fifth, and more importantly, the unreleased and unpublicized May 10, 2021, JIC report/letter to Chief Justice Korpor, though contradicting in part, reportedly stated as follows:
- That the judge did not directly or indirectly withdraw funds from any account that was a subject of the complaint.
- That the action by Judge Mappy in granting ex-parte order based on a request by one party without notice to the other party was a breach of Judicial Cannon 23 of the Judicial Cannon of Moral and Professional Conduct of Judges.
- In count three, the JIC said the matter was a fit subject of a private wrong and cannot be considered an ethical breach.
So, let us put this all together and try to make sense of it. in count one, the JIC was clear that the Judge did not directly or indirectly withdraw funds from any account; in count three, the JIC considered the matter a subject of private wrong that cannot be considered an ethical breach. How then was it possible to hold the same judge, in Count 2, in breach of Judicial Cannon 23 for granting an ex-parte request allegedly without notice to the other party when there was no direct or indirect withdrawal and that the matter was a fit subject for private wrong? Is count two at variance with counts 1 and 3?
Since count two, which is at variance with the other counts is a matter of ex-parte order, how does our judicial system manage ex-party orders? I am informed, that in practice, (there are countless examples of judges issuing ex-parte orders) although discouraged, ex-parte orders are allowed and are hardly a subject of ethical breach investigations. How come when a routine ex-parte order is issued by Judge Mappy, one of several judges who do so from time to time, it becomes a subject that has taken on such national significance to the Judiciary Branch?
Further, Article 73 or the 1986 Constitutions states as follows: “ No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made, or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”
Judge Mappy performed a judicial act by granting an ex-parte request allegedly without notice to the other party in a proper accounting proceeding, and now that is being held as a major ethical breach for which many are scheming and clamoring for her to be suspended for a prolonged period of time without pay. Routine acts that Judges perform can be challenged on remedial review before the Supreme Court.
This act of any Judge, the issuance of an ex parte order unless done outside the law, is a fit subject of review and the burden is on lawyers representing the party who feels aggrieved to apply to the court for relief. This is not an ethical breach but a judicial decision.
The May 10, 2021, report of the JIC succinctly makes this point “…the judge action or inaction” is not an ethical breach.” Why the lynching of this specific judge for a judicial act, ex parte order that is supported by law? Has anyone questioned why the many lawyers representing Mr. Brousius, who the records show, were informed of all issues on this case are silent?
Quite frankly, that is the only issue at stake here since there was no direct or indirect withdrawal of funds by Judge Mappy (JIC May 10, 2021, report) from any account that is the subject of this investigation. Further, according to the records, Mr. Brosius is or was only a 10% owner of Ducor Petroleum; and it has been established that there was no US$3 Million anywhere at any time; and that the only funding under the control of the court was the US212,704.36 that was escrowed and used in accordance with the agreement of the parties to facilitate the proper accounting required.
In any attempt to defame this judge for reasons known to such persons, let us not open Pandora’s box and undermine the independence of Judges to administer the law without fear or favor
We call on the Judiciary/Supreme Court to consider doing the following:
- Conclude this investigation to clear Judge Mappy since all evidence seems to point to no ethical breach or egregious conduct but an act of judicial function protected by the Liberian constitution;
- Take a definite position and issue a policy statement or guidance on the use of ex-parte orders by judges;
- Issue a policy guideline on how long investigations into alleged ethical breaches should last – provide a timeframe so that the fate that befell Judge Mappy (years of unending investigation) does not befall other judges in the future.