29 May 2016

Liberia: *ICC Publishes List of Qualified Counsels*

Monrovia — The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, has finally published on its website the list of professional legal counsels who have been duly vetted consistent with its trial procedures and standards and have been declared qualified to practice law and represent clients before the court.

The list which is posted on the ICC's website, comprises a total of 500 lawyers, most of whom were accepted based on their wealth of experience, years of practice and the quality of criminal cases handled as a courtroom lawyer spanning over a period of a decade, kind and nature of critical and important cases prosecuted or defended in their respective national jurisdictions with impressive results of either guilty or acquittal verdict.

Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus is the first and only Liberian legal counsel ever to have been vetted by an internationally acclaimed court of astute jurists, and is the only Liberian amongst legal counsels that have been duly certified by the ICC to practice law before the court and represent clients.

Prior to the publication of his name on the court's website, Cllr. Cephus was approached by the ICC to sign up as a Duty Counsel in order to be on the standby and to be called in whenever the court desires his services.

It is not known as to whether he has already signed up for such important duty but sources close to the court have hinted that Cllr. Cephus has been extended an official invitation by the counsel support division of the court to attend a working special seminar of legal experts at The Hague sometime in June, 2016.

Since he was admitted to the practice of law about a decade ago, Cllr. Cephus has handled progressively some of the most difficult and politically and emotionally charged cases in the history of the Liberian judiciary, ranging from treason, economic sabotage to rape, armed robbery and murder, among others.

He has also successfully taken up a number of high-profiled cases bordering on constitutional interpretations, such as the interpretation of Article 52(c) of the 1986 Constitution in the case: *"MPC v. NEC";* the argument on the interpretation of Article 1 of the 1986 Constitution, on whose has the final saying in determining a new election date in event of a force majeure or act of God, and this can be found in the case: *"JUPICA represented by the* *Honorable Edwin K. Martin v. NEC."*

Credible records gathered by this paper revealed that in 2007, Cllr. Cephus partnered with Cllr. Dempster Browne in the famous treason trial involving the late Charles Julu, which ultimately led to his (Julu's) acquittal.

He was also part of the legal team headed by Cllr. Fancies Garlawulo that represented Senator Roland Kaine for his alleged involvement in the mass murder of some citizens in Margibi County, but was later acquitted for lack of evidence during the trial.

Cllr. Cephus has won a number of high-profiled cases both at the Circuit Courts and Supreme Court of Liberia, and prominent amongst them is the case involving Madame Martha Sirleaf for armed robbery.

During the trial at the Criminal Court "D", Temple of Justice, Madame Sirleaf was convicted and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment, but was acquitted on appeal following a rigorous legal defense mounted by Cllr. Cephus before the full bench of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia in her favor.

Since its inception as a final arbiter of all constitutional issues in 1847, the Supreme Court of Liberia has never been or witnessed the docketing of a litany of hotly contested and politically thrilling constitutional arguments in successive and brilliant fashion until the filing of petitions regarding the interpretations of Article 52(c) and Article 1 of the 1986 Constitution in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

These cases bearing the name of Cllr. Cephus as petitioners' counsel are recorded in the annals of the Liberian judiciary and are currently used as reference materials on constitutional issues by both practicing lawyers and by law school students at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia.

Cllr. Cephus' qualification and subsequent admission on the list of Counsel for the ICC registry is an eye opener to other Liberian lawyers who may want to benefit from his experience and determination to add value and respect to the practice of law. *Full list of Counsel for the ICC registry will appear in our tomorrow edition.*

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