15 February 2013

Liberia: Civil Society Group Takes Supreme Court to Task

The Coalition of Civil Society Organization (COCSO) has raised serous concern over the Supreme Court seeking a retrial of a lawsuit in a Supreme Court in which the complainant has won two times. COCSO adds that in legal terms such is contrary to the principle of RES JUDICATA.

The case involves the Bai Bai family and Jesse K. Mulbah as defendants versus Madam Mary Sheriff as complainant. In 1994 Charles T. O King filed a complaint against the Bai Bai as defendant and Jesse K. Mulbah as co-defendant in the same case that involves 209.55 acres of land and judgment was rendered in favor of the Bai Bai family.

According to the complainant the Bai Bai family the landlords of Mr. Jesse K. Mulbah the co-defendent in a 209.55 acres of land in the Matadi and Lakpasee vicinity has been ruled two time by the same Supreme Court and Civil Court all In favor of the defendants.

COCSO view this as justice delayed, and has thus addressed to the Acting chief Justice and his three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court a communication signed by three member associations of the Coalition namely: Anthony F. Williams of The Movement Against Bad Labour Practices, Illegal Dismissal and Bad Governance in Liberia; Mr. Rhodoxon Fayiah of Strategic Journalist Committee; and Arthur Jikpamu of Citizens United to Enhanced Democracy. They observe that the case raises an issue of RES JUDIATA.

This RES JUDIATA means a ruling that final judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction on the merits is conclusive as to the right of the parties and their privies; as to them such may constitute an absolute bar to a subsequent action involving the same claim, demand or cause of action..

Explaining further, the communicate mentioned that in 1994, Charles C.T.O King filed a lawsuit against the Bai Bai, for the same 209.55 acres of land in the Matadi and Lakpasee area vicinity, disclosing that the supreme Court of Liberia ruled that the land belonged to the Bai Bai (LLR 37, pages 496).

The communicate added that the National Housing Authority, (NHA) as Co-Respondent in the same case filed for re-argument, stating that the Supreme Court had overlooked major issues of Law and facts, but the Supreme Court held that it had adequately dealt with all the issues of merit, and therefore affirmed its earlier Opinion. (37 LLR, 745 decided on February 16 1995).

Moreover, the communication stated that Madam Sheriff filed a lawsuit against Mr. Mulbah and the Bah Bai in the Civil Law Court claiming ownership of the land on which his house was being built and the Civil Law Court also ruled against her based on the same merit of the 1994 and 1995 Supreme Court ruling.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organization thus maintained that the action of the Supreme court's re-trying the case does not only remand and ignore its prior rulings, but an action that is considered a shock to them as a civil society organization.

The release added: "for this honorable Supreme Court to again accept a case that the Supreme Court had already ruled on based on the same merits adduced is also surprising".

The COCSO alleged that the plaintiff who re-filed the case on the same merit with Supreme Court has a lawyer (Counselor Gbessi) from a law firm owned and operated by one of the Associate Justices on the current Supreme Court bench, adding that his presence on the bench in trying the land case has an adverse and undue influence on any future court's ruling.

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