Leaked Documents: False Allegations against Commercial Court Judge Eva Mappy Morgan in US$3.4M, turned US$1.3M hearing
RESPONDENT’S CLOSING MEMORANDUM
- FACTUAL BACKGROUND
1.1 On 7 June 2013, the Monrovia Oil Trading Corporation (“MOTC”) filed a Petition for Accounting against Mr. Amos Brosius, requesting him to account for over US$8,000,000.00 (Eight Million United States Dollars) MOTC supplied Ducor Petroleum, Inc (“Ducor”) and which Ducor sold and payment thereof received by the said Ducor while Mr. Brosius was both the general manager of Ducor.
1.2 In its Petition, MOTC alleged:
- That it procured the incorporation, registration and funding of Ducor and owns and holds 90% of all the authorized and issued shares of Ducor while Mr. Amos Brosius owns 10% of the shares of Ducor;
- That pursuant to an MOU it has with Mr. Brosius, it allowed and appointed Mr. Amos Brosius to manage the affairs of Ducor including handling or overseeing all marketing and sale operations for an agreed consideration of “two (2) cents on every gallon of petroleum products sold by Ducor Petroleum, Inc”;
- That Mr. Brosius was paid all the benefits due him as per the terms of the MOU dealing with his appointment as Manager, and MOTC attached copies of invoices submitted by Mr. Brosius and checks it paid Mr. Brosius matching the amount of the invoices;
- That while Mr. Brosius initially appeared to have made reasonable efforts to account for proceeds of products that MOTC supplied Ducor and the latter did sell, a persistent problem of failure to account soon developed by the end of 2005 up to March 2013 when the Board of Ducor removed him from the post of General manager, although he remained a 10% shareholder of the company;
- That despite his dismissal by the board, as approved by the MOTC in its capacity as 90% holder of all shares of Ducor, Mr. Brosius continued to hold himself as General manager of the company and to collect from Ducor’s customers payment belonging to Ducor;
1.3 On 20 June 2013, Mr. Brosius filed his returns to the Petition for Accounting wherein he admitted to and pleaded both the Articles of Incorporation of Ducor and the MOU referenced by MOTC. Mr. Brosius stated in his returns, inter alia, as follows:
A. “That the known incorporator of Ducor Petroleum Inc., is Cllr. Cyril Jones”, (See count 4 (b) of the Returns);
B. “That the Memorandum of Understanding executed between the parties to wit, gave MOTC 90% (ninety percent) and being the financier and Mr. Amos P. K. Brosius 10% (ten percent) and given the managerial position while Cllr. Cyril Jones remains with nothing. See Memorandum of Understanding marked as “R/4”. AS agreed, the financier according to the Memorandum of Understanding, MOTC has failed to live up to its financial commitment/obligation(s). In short, MOTC has no investment in Ducor Petroleum Inc.” (See count 4 (c) of the Returns);
C. “That a majority shareholder does not have the right/authority in whatever form or manner regardless of voting power to prevent a minority shareholder from exercising his/her rights given to him/her by the constitution, statute and laws of this country and other legal documents” (See count 4 (d) of the Returns);
D. “That Respondent is indeed entitled to 2 (two) cents on every gallon sold by Ducor Petroleum Inc., and a commission as spelt out in the Memorandum of Understanding, but since the commencing of operations the Respondent has not received any dividend on his 10% (ten percent) shares, even though Ducor Petroleum Inc., has made profit(s) over the years”. (See count 4 (e) of the Returns);
- “That payments made by to Ducor Petroleum Inc., for Mr. Amos P. K. Brosius were his entitlements as provided for by the MOU. Hence, MOTC is not the payer of Ducor Petroleum Inc, and its employee(s) but rather disburse funds she received belonging to Ducor for the sake of convenience. All funds for Ducor Petroleum Inc., were received by MOTC via Ducor’s account at LBDI and managed by MOTC all was done in the name of transparency.” (Count 5 of the Returns);
- “That Respondent did notify Petitioner of checks received and are in the possession and said checks were and are to be released pending the final completion of an inquiry of Respondent into the diverting of cash intended for Ducor Petroleum Inc., by MOTC without the consent and knowledge of Ducor Petroleum Inc., (Mr. Amos Brosius), General manager. Find attached payment made by customers to MOTC for petroleum products supplied by Ducor Petroleum Inc., which necessitated the withholding of the outstanding checks and communications”. (See count 12 of the Returns).
- “That Respondent is not refusing the audit of the entity (Ducor Petroleum Inc.)…for which he served as its head from 2005 to march 2013, but that Baker Tilly formerly VOSCON, however, given the conflict of interest that exists on the part of Baker Tilly formerly VOSCON, Respondent will welcome an internationally accredited auditing firm to conduct the audit”. (See count 9 of the Returns)
1.4 After pleadings rested, the Court assigned the matter for pre-trial conference in keeping with the robust pretrial conference regime instituted by the Commercial Court of Liberia since its opening in November 2011, consistent with its enabling statute and other laws in this jurisdiction. It is important to note that the decision(s) forming the predicate for the Complainant’s Complaint were taken within two (2) months of the filing of the suit and while the matter was still at the pre-trial conference stage.
1.5 As usual, discussions and/or decisions at a pre-trial conference are driven by the parties with the facilitation of the court. In the instant case, the Court noted that ownership of Ducor and the relationship of the parties were not disputed and there might not be a need for an extensive trial to determine financial transactions and accounting of Ducor if the parties so determine at the pre-conference to work thru some of the issues presented. Hence, what the Court tried to do was to enable the parties’ on-going discussions on:
A. an audit in lieu of a trial, as trial would present significant difficulty given the period for which accounting was sought;
B. The deposit of the checks for Ducor received by Mr. Brosius, but which he said he could not get to Ducor’s account until the matter was finally determined since he was no longer in control of the account; and
C. Mr. Brosius ceasing to represent himself as officer of Ducor since the majority shareholder had approved his removal and/or pending the determination of the suit.
1.6 The parties quickly agree on an audit, but they remained deadlocked for a long time on who should conduct the audit. During this prolong discussion on who should conduct the audit, the risk of the checks received by Mr. Brosius becoming stale-dated after six (6) months, one of their issue became real and a matter that MOTC pressed since it claimed that the value of the checks included value of products it supplied Ducor and for which it needed to be paid the value of the checks less the commission due Ducor and Mr. Brosius. Following discussions, MOTC agreed, as a compromise, that it would accept the value of the checks to be preserved or not disbursed until the final disposition of the matter, as demanded by Mr. Brosius in Count Twelve (12) of his returns and through the pre-trial conferences. The parties therefore agree that MOTC/the management of Ducor, which had all along been operating the Ducor account at LBDI would not disburse the US$212,704.36 representing the value of the checks.
1.7 Based on the above-mentioned agreement, Mr. Brosius delivered the seven checks to the court for deposit and the Court sent the seven checks for deposit undercover of a letter dated 15 July 2013 with copies to all parties, advising the bank that “any and all transactions pertaining to the above-referenced Account i.e. deposits, withdrawal, checks, etc., must be accompanied by a letter signed by the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia, Her Honor, Eva Mappy Morgan, authorizing the said transaction.” The order prohibiting any transaction in the account except upon the written authorization of the Chief Judge was in recognition of the fact that absent such order there was a substantial risk that MOTC would withdraw the amount of US$212,704.36 by ordering its appointed two signatories to the account who by themselves were capable of operating the account and were in fact operating the account as alleged by Mr. Brosius in his returns and during the conference. In so doing, the court decided to include the other account of Ducor at Ecobank.
1.8 Upon receiving this order, MOTC by and thru its counsels wrote on 22 July 2013 to indicate that while they remain committed to not disbursing the amount/value of the seven (7) checks, the court’s order to prohibit any and all transactions on the account was in excess of the parties’ agreement and had the effect of stopping Ducor from operating since the account in question was Ducor operating account, which the current management of Ducor was using to continue its business. MOTC requested a modification of our order with the undertaking that it would submit the full value of the seven (7) checks so that same could be placed in escrow.
1.9 The Commercial Court being aware and knowledgeable of business continuity which goes to the benefit of all shareholders and other stakeholders including employees, the court found the application reasonable, but indicated that the request would not be considered unless a meeting was held with the lawyer(s) of the other party-i.e., Mr. Amos Brosius. A meeting was held on 23 July 2013 with Cllr. Viama Vlama representing Mr. Brosius and Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner representing MOTC at which time it was agreed that an equally reliable alternative to prohibiting any and all transaction on the account would be for the value of the seven (7) checks in question withdrawn, and placed in an escrow account that will be under the total control of the Court. An appropriate letter modifying our previous order was then sent out on 24July 2013, with copies to, and served on all the lawyers of the parties just as was done with the original order.
1.9 On 24 July 2013, MOTC tendered a check in the amount of US$212,704.36 representing the value of the seven checks, which was deposited and subsequently withdrawn, placed in an escrow account at the Afriland First Bank under the control of the court, and from which payments to the auditors (PKF) was made upon the expressed agreement of the parties. See, for example, a copy of a 31 March 2014 letter written and signed by counsels of Mr. Amos Brosius that is in the records of this case in which counsels stated in part that Mr. Brosius “accepts the payment for the Audit of Ducor Petroleum Inc., to be conducted by PKF by and through the Commercial Court and/or the Parties to be made from the amount within the escrow account”.
2.3 The Complaint also (i) faulted the selection of PKF to conduct the audit agreed by the parties; (ii) contested findings of audit report of PKF submitted to the Commercial Court; and (iii) complained of the Court’s in disposing of the matters, adding that “it has been nearly six months since PKF submitted its report to the Court” but the court has not heard the Motion to Vacate the Arbitration Award filed by his lawyers and the resistance to the Motion filed by MOTC’s lawyer.
2.4 On 23 July 2018, the Chief Justice wrote the then Chairman of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, forwarding what he referred to as “a letter of complaint from Mr. Amos P. K. Brosius, Sr., Monrovia, Liberia, against Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, Chief Judge, Commercial Court of Liberia” with request that the “Commission conduct an investigation into the matter”.
2.5 In response to the JIC’s request for a written submission, the Respondent on 14 August 2018 a 7-page response to the Complaint, denying that the Complainant’s Complaint was against her as a person and/or that it alleged any ethical breach besides repeated exceptions to judicial rulings and decisions by the Court, which are cognizable to appellate review, and not the JIC.
2.6 After issues were joined there were no hearings held in 2018. However, complainant launched a sustained media campaign characterized not only by open discussions of the substance of the complaint by the Complainant, and the case itself, but also by threatening or caused to be threatened the life of the Judge, defaming or caused to be defamed the reputation of the Judge. The matter remained pending until 22 June 2020 when, in response to a letter written by Chief Judge Mappy Morgan to the JIC, a citation for hearing was issued by the JIC for hearing on 3 July 2020. At this hearing Judge Mappy Morgan was then served Complainant’s Amended Complaint dated 30 June 2020.
2.7 The Amended Complaint of the Complainant, referenced “Amended Complaint Against Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan”, essentially stated as follows:
- That “on July 15, 2013, both MOTC and I at the behest of the (sic) Judge Morgan agreed that since the issue of financial investment and Ducor Petroelum, Inc two accounts in Ecobank Liberia Limited and the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) were in dispute, they should be frozen and that any withdrawal of monies to be made therefrom would require the signature of the Respondent’s Judge with the knowledge and approval of the parties pending the final determination of the Petition for Accounting and this was subsequently accordingly ordered by the said Court”;
‘That the Ducor Bank account at LBDI was opened to make accountability in Ducor trade with MOTC easier and to deposit and withdraw revenue received from Ducor customers for the transportation of products to their destinations especially, where the cost of transportation of product cost were invoiced together Therefore, we
- allowed MOTC to have two of its staff in persons of Papa Kamara and Raju Kunjukunju to serve as signatories B & C respectively to that account and Amos Brosius is Signatory A to the said account”;
- That “seven (7) cheques belonging to Ducor Petroleum, Inc. but in my possession were listed and presented to the court…and then deposited in the Ducor’s LBDI account which was one of the accounts that were frozen by the Judge’s order made with the agreement of the parties”;
- That on July 22, 2013, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner wrote a letter to the court addressed to Her Hon. Eva Mappy Morgan…on behalf of his client MOTC, in which he requested the judge to de freeze the Ducor Petroleum Inc. bank account…so as to enable MOTC to fund an interim management team it had set up without any reference to me nor my lawyers while the case is pending in court and not yet determined”;
- That on July 23, 2013, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan ordered the President of LBDI to in effect, do just as Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner had requested in his letter of July 22, 2013, and that “on July 24, 2013, less than twenty-four (24) hours after Cllr. Warner’s letter was filed with Judge Morgan, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan ordered the President of LBDI to pay US$212,704.36 to the order of a Sheriff of the Commercial Court without any reference to me”. Judge Mappy Morgan also “ordered the bank to allow transactions in the account” and “to return the account to status quo ante”;
- That the Complainant “had no knowledge about Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner’s letter of July 22, 2013…until recently when my lawyer in another law suit discovered the said letter”;
- That “following her Honor. Eva Mappy Morgan’s lifting of the freezing order on Ducor account with LBDI without a hearing, the Respondent’s (sic) Judge then authorized a sequel of withdrawal of monies from Ducor Petroleum Inc LBDI account totaling US$1.3M… while the matter was still pending and not yet finally determined”;
- That as at June 17, 2013, Ducor “had the following balances in its receivables and bank accounts:
Balance B/F June 17, 2013—LBDI US$180,705.36
Value of Seven Checks Received from me and Deposited at LBDI US$212,704.36*
Balance B/F June 17, 2013—LBDI US$48,500.00
Account Receivables-See List Attached US$2,910,223.86
*not part on b/f on 17 June 2013; deposited in July (emphasis ours).
Although no list of receivables was attached to the amended Complaint or introduced during the hearing;
- That “on July 28, 2015, two years after Judge Morgan allowed MOTC to take control of the monies entrusted to the custody of the court, the three judges commissioned PKF to conduct an audit” and that “the audit was completed and report submitted to the court on January 29, 2018; and
- That the “failure of MOTC to exhibit any valid audit evidence of financial investment in Ducor clearly manifests that it owns no financial investment in Ducor contrary to its claims in its June 17, 2013 Motion for preliminary Injunction to the Commercial Court.”
The foregoing background and facts present the following issues:
1. Whether Mr. Brosius proved or provided any evidence that Judge Mappy Morgan withdrew or caused the withdrawal of US$3.4 M or US1.3 M from the said account of Ducor?
2. Whether or not Judge Mappy’s decision to escrow the value (US$212,704.36) of some disputed seven (7) checks payable to Ducor in lieu of her earlier order that any all transactions pertaining Ducor’s accounts must be followed by her written instructions, denied Mr. Brosius any substantive right or relief he prayed?
3. Whether prior to the 15 July 2013 stay orders of Judge Mappy Morgan, Ducor Petroleum, Inc., operated its account without hindrance?
4. Whether the 17 July 2018 original Complaint of Mr. Brosius or the 29 June 2020 amendment thereto has alleged and/or proved any conduct on the part of Judge Mappy Morgan that violates any of the Judicial Cannons extant in Liberia?
Respondents addresses the issues seriatim.
ISSUE #1: Whether Mr. Brosius proved or provided any evidence that Judge Mappy Morgan withdrew from Ducor’s account at LBDI or caused the withdrawal of 3.4 M or 1.3 M or any amount or accounts receivables from the said account of Ducor
Mr. Brosius has no evidence showing Judge Mappy Morgan’s withdrawal (authorized unauthorized) of U$3.4M, US1.3M from Ducor’s account or control of anyor control of alleged accounts receivables of US$ 2.9M belonging to Ducor.
Mr. Brosius has failed to produce any evidence whatsoever, least prove that Judge Mappy withdrew amounts of US$3.4M or USS1.3M from Ducor’s account. It was factually and legally impossible for Judge Mappy Morgan to have withdrawn these millions of dollars from the account which did not have these balances or proven to have these balances at the time of the purported unauthorized withdrawal by Judge Mappy Morgan. Even assuming without admitting that Judge Mappy Morgan could withdraw from the account, it was nonetheless impossible for her to withdraw a million or 1.3 million or 3.4 million dollars because by Mr. Brosius’ admission in his own Amended Complaint reference above, the only substantial amount in the account was the value US$180,000.00 PLUS “Account Receivables of US$2,910,223.86. Certainly, “Account Receivables” are not cash or liquid assets to be in a bank account! Given the pace at which Mr. has change his accusations, it is possible he could change from saying that Judge Mappy Morgan withdrew money to a new accusation that she “facilitated” money withdrawal of the money. Even an accusation of facilitating withdrawal is not factually or legally tenable.
Judge Mappy never facilitated MOTC or anyone to withdraw money from Ducor account. Mr. Brosius himself confirmed in his returns that the Ducor’s account at LBDI was opened to enable MOTC to monitor funds flows to Ducor and that MOTC therefore appointed its staff as two of the three signatories to the account with the expressed agreement that any two signatories (meaning the two signatories of MOTC by themselves) could operate the account. The relevant admission of Mr. Brosius on this point is as follows:
‘That the Ducor Bank account at LBDI was opened to make accountability in Ducor trade with MOTC easier and to deposit and withdraw revenue received from Ducor customers for the transportation of products to their destinations especially, where the cost of transportation of product cost were invoiced together Therefore, we allowed MOTC to have two of its staff in persons of Papa Kamara and Raju Kunjukunju to serve as signatories B & C respectively to that account and Amos Brosius is Signatory A to the said account.” MOTC therefore operated the account before and after removal of Mr. Brosius in August 2013 and thereafter up to the time of Judge Mappy Morgan’s instruction of 15 July 2013. The Judge’s order or modification thereof gave nothing to MOTC that it did
not have, nor did it take anything from Mr. Brosius that he had. We iterate that Judge Mappy Morgan returned the account to the same status before the stay order of 15 July 2013, which essentially was to the benefit of Mr. Brosius and ensured that the amount of US$212,704.36 would not be used by Ducor Petroleum.
And additional and significant point is whether the so-called freezing of the account was a relief granted to Mr Brosius in response to his specific prayer OR it was a decision made by Judge Mappy Morgan sua sponte in a bid to ringfence the value of the seven checks that Mr. Brosius refused to deliver for deposit into Ducor account based on his concern that MOTC, which was operating the account, would deplete the proceeds of such seven checks. The records show that Mr. Brosius did not pray for the freezing of Ducor Petroleum account, either in his returns or in any ancillary application. His only point was that he would not deliver the checks until final determination of the matter because MOTC had in the past withdrawn funds from the account without his knowledge and was apparently continuing it. See Section 12 of Mr. Brosius’ Returns, as quoted hereinabove under the Fact Summary. This is where in the sound discretion of the Judge, the stay orders was issue for the sole purpose of ensuring Mr. Brosius got whatever share or percentage of the amount of US$212, 704.36 which was of concern to him, which triggered the escrowing of said amount. Worth mentioning is that the parties agreed that PKF would be paid from said amount, ensuring the intended purpose of the stay orders by Judge Mappy Morgan. That is, Mr. Brosius benefitted from escrowing of the funds (as it was used to pay his share of audit fees) better than maintaining the account frozen and therefore not accessible without agreement of the parties).
Whether or not Judge Mappy’s decision to escrow the value (US$212,704.36) of some disputed seven (7) checks payable to Ducor in lieu of her earlier order that any all transactions pertaining Ducor’s accounts be followed by her written instructions, denied Mr. Brosius of any substantive right or relief prayed for?
Mr. Brosius substantive rights or any rights were unaffected by lifting of stay orders by Judge Mappy Morgan
Mr. Brosius, contends 7 years later that he suffered harm as a result of the lifting of the stay orders by Judge Mappy Morgan. Mr. Brosius last witness then proffered into evidence statements, he says, showed how much money was in the account and how much money was taken out as a result of lifting the stay orders. Please note that some of the transactions complainant’s last witness highlights are from 15 July 2013 to 23 July 2013, the time in which the Judge Mappy Morgan stays orders are enforced. By any logic, no transaction during this period can be attributed to the Judge. So, the critical period here is 24 July 2013 (stay orders lifted) to 8 August 2013 (day before Irrevocable Stipulation executed). Please note debits to account from 24 July 2013 to 8 August 2013 are: 30 July –US$30.00; 29 July US$212,704.36; 1 August
US30.00; 2 August US$125, 00.00. Total debits from 24 July 2014 to 8 August 2013 is about U$337,704.36. Note further that it is undisputed that US$212,704.36 as debited was escrowed and PKF was paid from this account. So, total debits to subject account at LBDI during the period 24 July to 8 August 2013, according to complainant’s statements given as exhibits to reflect transactions on this account, less US$212,704.36 is US$125,060. Certainly, US$125,060 does not equate to US$$3.4 million and/or the newly charged amount of US$1.3M as alleged in Mr. Brosius amended complaint of 30 June 2020.
It is significant to note that on 9 August 2013, Cllr. Gongloe who testifies, and then strangely sends in a written confirmation of his testimony, did in fact sign an Irrevocable Stipulation which prohibited his client, Mr. Brosius from operating in any capacity for and on behalf of Ducor Petroleum, Inc. It is Mr. Brosius lawyers who barred him, who took operations of Ducor Petroleum, Inc., away from him, not Judge Mappy Morgan as he insists. The fact of the transfer of the funds and their deposits into an escrow accounts was discussed subsequently by Brosius and his lawyers as evidenced by 1) the 31 March 2014 letter written and signed by counsels of Mr. Brosius that is in the records of this case in which counsels stated in part that Brosius “accepts the payment for the Audit of Ducor Petroluem, Inc., to be conducted by PKF by and through the Commercial Court and/or the parties to be made from the amount within the escrow account; and 2) The 7 April 2014 hearing and the following submission made Mr. Brosuis by and thru counsel: “ The Respondent, Mr. Brosuis says that on 24th July A.D. 2013, the Herigage Partners & Associates., under the signature of Atty. Abrahim B. Sillah, Sr., submitted to this curt a check (CA11391) valued at US$212,704.36 as per account of the aforesaid letter of July 24, 2013 at the LBDI. One of counsels says that he interposes no as to the amount prayed for by the Petitioner to be placed in the account that the said money was withdrawn from for the sake of Justice and fair play; that is to say, US$76,000.00 placed into the Commercial Court Escrow established at Afriland Bank to be transferred into account number 002USD21215153401 in the name of Ducor Petroleum, Inc.” Accordingly, any and all transactions on the account commencing 9 August 2013 cannot be ascribed to the Judge. These transactions on the account from the herein mentioned 9 August 2013 is a function of the parties jointly signed Irrevocable Stipulation as approved by Judge Mappy Morgan. Even assuming that Judge Mappy Morgan lifted a stay order which returned the account to status quo ante, the actions of his lawyers, including Cllr. Gongloe, not only sanctioned the lifting of the Judge’s stay order, but effectively removed their client from any and all operations of Ducor Petroleum, Inc., including the position of CEO. Then many, many years later, Mr. Brosius and his lawyers, unable to prove unauthorized withdrawal of an alleged US$3.4 and/or US$1.3M and/or control or custody of US$2.9M in account receivables, have latched on to Judge Mappy Morgan lifting of stay orders to which he lost nothing that was not already lost. It is important to remember that transactions where happening on the Ducor Petroleum Account prior to Judge Mappy Morgan stay orders. Further, Mr. Brosius did not suffer any irreparable damages as alleged. His own exhibit shows debits totaling US$125060
during the period immediately following the lifting of stay orders. By any mathematical standard, does debit of US$125060 from Ducor Petroleum between the period 24 July to 8 August compute to US$1.3 million dollars as accused by complainant in his amended complaint? Still on the issue of lifting the stay orders, did the lawyers not have a remedy on notice of the orders being lifted? Might lawyers who are derelict in their duties use the Judiciary Inquiry Commission to penalize judges for such errors? Moreover, are supposedly errors by judges be subjected to the Judicial Inquiry Commission for corrections instead of the Honorable Supreme Court? The records will show that these same lawyers who are now endorsing the alleged wrong Mr. Brosius claims to have suffered, some 7 years later, participated in other proceedings after 24 July 2013. For example, these lawyers executed the Irrevocable Stipulation and represented the interest of Mr. Brosius in numerous hearings leading to the conduct of the audit.
Moreover, if the parties by their own filings before court state Brosius as 10% shareholder and MOTC as 90% shareholder; what then is the damage to each party in terms of the debit of US$125,060 that I allegedly caused to happen at the lifting of the freeze? More succinctly, what is the damage to the 10% shareholder of Ducor Petroleum? The purpose of the Audit was for proper accounting requested by MOTC, 90% shareholder, of Brosius, 10% shareholder of Ducor Petroleum. At its conclusion, this audit was to set straight the records and remedy any loss, where applicable, a party may have suffered at the conduct of the other party. This is why complainant’s counsel in the 31 March 2014 requested court to include as part of the audit, US$3.4 million allegedly diverted by MOTC sometime in 2006, 2008 to 2010, which is prior to the opening of the Commercial Court. The evidence shows these shareholders had already agree to an audit which was commenced by VOSCOM Baker Tilly. However, when the matter was filed for proper accounting before the Commercial Court, Mr. Brosius accused Baker Tilly of conflict of interest, and agreed to the selection of PKF for the conduct of the Audit to wit: “That he accepts the payment for the Audit of Ducor Petroleum Inc., to be conducted by PKF by and through the Commercial Court and/or the Parties to be made from the amount within the escrow account” See letter of 31 March 2014 signed by complainant’s counsels. In his litany of allegations, Mr. Brosius has also denied his lawyers were aware that PKF was auditor. PKF, a firm of much repute, is available and will attest to the countless hours spent with lawyers, PKF and the court on the entire process. Incidentally, Cllr. Necular Y. Edward who feigned ignorance of how the $212.704.36 was escrowed, the conduct which triggered the lifting of the stay orders also signed this letter. Requiring prior written approval of the judge relative to every deposit and withdrawal was not an end in itself, but was intended to satisfy the concerns raised by Mr. Brosius that he did not want to surrender the seven (7) checks because the proceeds thereof would be dissipated by MOTC. The objective of the initial order was to preserve the value of the seven checks, and that same objective was achieved by transferring the entire value of the checks to an escrow account that would in fact be and was under the control of the court. One could argue that the escrow account in fact offered more protection against any risk of dissipation as compared to mere requiring that the Judge
“authorize” any deposit or withdrawal on account. Put simply the escrowing of the amount was for the benefit of Mr. Brosius.
Complainant says that “on July 24, 2013, less than twenty four (24) hours after Cllr. Warner’s letter filed with Judge Morgan, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan ordered the President of LBDI to pay US$212,704.36 to the order of the Sheriff of the Commercial Court without any reference to me; she then ordered the account to status quo ante. Which means, that the signatory mandate in that account shall continue as, two signatories from MOTC, one signatory from Amos Brosius and any two signatories can authorize transactions in that account. Attached and Marked as M/6 in Bulk are communications from Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan ordering the Bank to de freeze Account no. 0221215153401 housed at LBDI”
Take note that complainant explains thoroughly the meaning of ‘status quo ante’. Witness further that complainant affirms he was a signatory to the account when it was returned to ‘status quo ante’. By complainant’s own statement, the Judge, on 24 July 2013, restored his rights and that of the signatories to the account without prejudice. According to him the account had three signatories, and he also was one of any two signatories authorized to transact business on the account. This complainant who proffers the letter of Judge Mappy Morgan’s authorization for withdrawal of the amount of US$212.704.36, must also produce any and all records from the bank on this transaction. That is, complainant must provide communication in regards to the Judge authorizing the withdrawal of the new US$1.3 million dollars. As you ponder this, this Judge reminds you, the JIC, that you have the power of subpoena and urges you to subpoena any and all records from the bank, and/or from any and all sources to inform your decision on the withdrawal on the newly charged amount of US$1.3 million. Now, complainant asserts that Ducor Petroleum’s account was returned to ‘status quo ante’, de-freeze as he puts it, without his knowledge. By this, complainant is contending that he was somehow denied due process. Certainly, this is incorrect. Complainant was duly represented by counsel at all material times. It is this representation by his cadre of lawyers, and lawyers for MOTC that culminated into their joint stipulation to court on moving the case forward. It is this request for an out-of-court discussion, granted by this Judge, in the normal course of business that produced Irrevocable Stipulation in which complainant agreed to be removed as CEO of Ducor Petroleum pending the outcome of the audit. As complainant explains, this Judge restored his rights to operate the account when the freeze was lifted. It is very significant to note that it is complainant’s own conduct, own agreement that curtailed his rights to transact any further business on the account as of 9 August 2013, as follows “That Mr. Brosius, Minority Shareholder is prohibited, and completely barred from acting in any capacity for and on behalf of Ducor Petroleum, Inc., including General Manager pending the outcome of the audit, and instructions from Court” The ‘Irrevocable Stipulation Growing out Of a Pre-Trial Conference’ was signed by MOTC’s lawyer Cllr. Negbalee Warner and Complainant Amos Brosius’
lawyers, Cllrs. Viama Blama, Nyanti Tuan and Tiawon Gongloe, and approved by Judge Mappy Morgan.
Whether prior to Judge Mappy Morgan 15 July 2013 letter to LBDI , Ducor Petroleum
operated its account without hindrance?
Ducor Petroleum, Inc., transacted business on its corporate account prior to Judge Mappy Morgan letter of 15 July 2013
When this case was filed on 17 June 2013, Ducor Petroleum was conducting business on its account. The instructions to LBDI that transactions pertaining to Ducor’s account must be accompanied by letter signed by the Judge was to protect the subsequent deposit of 7 checks held by Mr. Brosius. As noted throughout this document, these checks were deposited by Mr. Brosius. Due however, to the time it might take to clear, MOTC, presented a check for full amount, the value of which was withdrawn and escrowed at Afriland First Bank. It is this escrowed US$212,704,36 the parties agree would pay for the conduct of the audit by PKF. A simple and clear cut transaction! How does this, 7 years later become an ethical transgression? I respectfully request you take note of Mr. Brosius counsels letter of 31 March 2014 evidencing knowledge of the above transaction which activated the lifting and removing of any previous instructions on the account by Judge Mappy Morgan.
Whether the 17 July 2018 original Complaint of Mr. Brosius or the 30 June 2020
amendment thereto has alleged and/or proved any conduct on the part of
Judge Mappy Morgan that violates any of the Judicial Canons extant in Liberia
Mr. Brosius does not show violation of any Canons by Judge Mappy Morgan On 24 July 2020, what was supposedly the last hearing for production of evidence by complainant, I was handed a letter signed by Cllr. M. Wilkins Wright that he had been hired by complainant to represent his interest. The hearing was suspended to reconvene on 7 August 2020. At the call of the matter on 7 August, Complainant produced his final witness and I was handed complainant’s Closing Memorandum by and thru his counsel, Cllr. Micah Wilkins Wright. This memorandum inter alia includes a flurry of some fresh accusations, and a litany of ethical misconduct levied. At this stage, the Judge is having a ‘whiplash’ because as the charges are found wanting, new ones crop out, almost like a fishing expedition. First US$3.4 million, cleared by complainant’s counsel letter of 31 March 2014 and complainant’s statement on record of 1 October 2018 as published by Liberian Daily Observer on 4 October 2018; then US$1.3 million cleared by complainant’s amended complaint in terms of balances brought forward in accounts at LBDI and Ecobank, and bank
statement proffered during hearing of 7 August 2020 showing absolutely nothing closing to a US$1.3 million in the account during the period 23 July to 8 August 2013 when the Judge not only lifted the ‘freeze’, but supposedly authorized a slew of withdrawal to equal the amount of US$1.3 million dollars. And so, the Judge will endeavor to address some of the new and/or augmented charges now levied as at 7 August 2013.
Neither the original 17 July 2018 Complaint nor the 29 June 2020 Amended Complaint has stated or proven any conduct of Judge Mappy Morgan violating any of the judicial canons. The Complainant has not proven theft, conflict of interest or any other question of moral turpitude.
Unfortunately, however, the Complainant’s closing memorandum argues what it has not proved. In particular, the Complainant closing memorandum alleges that Judge Mappy Morgan violated the following five (5) cannons:
- Judicial Cannon Ten-Essential Conduct of a Judge
- Judicial Cannon Twenty-Three-EX Parte Application
- Judicial Cannon Twenty-Four-EX Parte Communications
- Judicial Cannon Twenty-Five-Influence of Decision upon Development of the Law
- Judicial Cannon Thirty-Five-Abuse of Discretion
Respondents categorically denies violating any of the above-named cannons.
Judicial Canon 10 – Abuse of Discretion Complainant alleges a violation of Judicial Canon 10 when i) “the Judge intemperate behavior towards complainant herein was demonstrated when she placed the complainant’s lawyers on the prisoners’ bench in her court when the said lawyers attempted to take action in defense of their client’s interest.” Worth referencing at this stage, is that complainant and some paid media pundits held that the Judge stole 3.4 million from Ducor Petroleum’s account at the LBDI in a period of seven months. This complainant demonstrated or caused demonstration at the gates of the Temple of Justice calling the Judge all sorts of derogatory names amongst others. Complainant’s counsel knew or ought have known by their own communication of 31 March 2014, requesting the court to include as part of the audit the USS3.4 million dollars, that there was no such amount, but failed to correct the error. The calculated failure by counsels to correct the record continues even to this day, as headliners of some print, radio and electronic broadcast; which also continue to put my life in peril. This Judge determine that counsels of complainant did not uphold the dignity of the court when they deliberately neglected to either provide their client with the facts or correct the records. Counsels knew or ought to have known the constant
- barrage of insults, threats and relentless urging to ‘kill the judge’ could have been remedied by a simple correction of these statements by complainant and his cohorts. This was the essence of the show-cause hearing. Unless Cllr. Wright also agrees that defaming women, mothers, fellow human beings, and Judges for that matter falls within the framework of defending a client’s interest. ii) That the Judge foreclosed a mortgage, sold his property leaving him homeless, as the judge had frozen the complainants account. This is the type of irresponsible and despicable narrative that this complainant continues to feed the public, causing danger to my life and the vilifying of my reputation. The facts are 1) Foreclosure is a legal proceeding. The parties on signing a mortgage deed agreement on facility extended the mortgagor, inter alia stipulate to certain conditions of default and the consequences attending. Therefore, homes subject to public auction under this arrangement by courts is not a violation of any canon. That said, this Judge did not preside over the foreclosure proceedings in the case involving complainant Brosius. 2) The Judge did not and have never frozen the accounts of complainant, nor did she prohibit complainant’s access to his account. The accounts before court from which the Judge authorized withdrawal of US$212,704, 36 and return said account to status quo ante, was that of Ducor Petroleum., a corporate, and not the personal account of complainant Brosius. Contradicting his assertion of the account being his account, complainant affirms that the account had three signatories, and required two signature to effect a withdrawal on Ducor Petroleum, Inc., account. Therefore, I could not prohibit access to complainant’s account which, like the US$3.4 million dollars, was equally not before this Judge. At no time during these proceedings did I violate Judicial Canon 10 and/or any other Canon since my 10 years on the Bench. I strive at all material times to live the Canons in and out of court.
- Regarding Cannons Twenty-Three-Ex Parte Application and Judicial Cannon Twenty-Four-Ex Parte Communications, Judge Mappy Morgan says there is nothing alleged or proved that she engaged in ex parte communications. A written communication was sent by counsel of MOTC, a conference was held thereon, and the decision taken was sent to the bank with notice to all parties. Similarly, lawyers for Brosius were copied on the letter modifying the Judge original orders of 15 July 2013. In fact, the establishment of the escrow account was expressly acknowledged by the counsel(s) for complainant who asked that the proceeds therein be used to pay the auditors. And the auditor was indeed paid from the said account.
Complainant states the Judge violates Judicial Canon 23 noted above, when she order the ‘freeze orders’ lifted without leave of the other party. There was no ex parte application or application from either party to place a freeze. Assuming for argument sake, that there was an ex parte application by either party, this is provided for under Judicial Cannon 23 with caution on moving quickly to limit the restraint on the freedom of action of a defendant. The several conferences in which a check for US212,704.36 was deposited, other checks totaling that amount handed over by complainant also deposited; then prior to clearing of those individuals checks, the lump sum deposit of US$212, 704. 36
withdrawn and escrowed at Afriland First Bank, return of the account to status quo ante on withdrawal of US212,704.36, and the Irrevocable Stipulation by the Parties dated 9 August 2013, evidences the prompt action taken by the Judge to ensure minimum restraint of complainant Brosius’ freedom of action. Considering the date of filing of this case, 17 June 2013, Returns of Respondent 27 June, to execution of the Irrevocable Stipulation 9 August 2013; the entire process, including holidays and Sundays being about 42 days demonstrates care, and quick action taken by the Judge to apply the principles set forth in Judicial Canon 23.
Complainant maintains further that the Judge violates Judicial Canon 24 herein mentioned when she lifted a freeze order. ‘Lifting of the freeze’ is wrongly termed as there was no request by either party for a ‘freeze order’ on the account of Ducor Petroleum. Rather, it was found during the many conferences held with the parties, that complainant was in possession of 7 checks totaling US$212,704.36 belonging to Ducor Petroleum, and was refusing to have these checks deposited in the account of Ducor Petroleum. Complainant maintained that he was entitled either to the full and/or certain portion of this US$212.704.36; and that depositing the checks in the account at this stage could be problematic for him. It is after this conference, with no freeze order request from either party, that the Judge, to safeguard the non-use of the US$212.704.36 to be deposited, communicated to the bank in a letter dated 15 July 2013. The letter inter alia stated that the bank is to receive instructions from the Judge on transactions pertaining to the Ducor Petroleum’s account. Ducor Petroleum found the Judges’ Orders onerous and ask for reconsideration of the aforesaid instructions. Again, following another round of meetings with counsels, and understanding from both parties that the concern was with the aforesaid US$212,706.36, that the Judge ordered the money be withdrawn, escrowed and Ducor Petroleum account return to business as usual. The records also show, that complainant counsels, barely 16 days later executed the herein mentioned Irrevocable Stipulation not only agreeing to conduct an audit, but prohibited complainant from acting for and on behalf of Ducor until the conclusion of said audit. Surely, Cllrs. Viama Blama, Nyanti Tuan, Nicholas Edward and Tiawon Gongloe who signed this instrument on behalf of their client would have sought the appropriate relief had they believed that Judge violated Canon 24. This newly discovered conduct of the Judge is another attempt to malicious defame the Judge’s reputation and pin something on her by all means possible. Really, this should be forbidden. Lawyers should not be given ‘carte blanc’ opportunities to accuse Judges, just for accusation sake. Judges are not opposed to examination, but please let there be a rational basis which triggers the examination process. Is proof evident or presumption great that the Judge stole, caused to be stolen; withdrew or caused to be withdrawn, had custody/control, caused to have control/custody over, and/or collected or caused to be collected some 2,9 million dollars in receivables, as complainant alleges? Again, a simple subpoena by the JIC or filtering of such charges would have remedy this ordeal being suffered by the Judge.
Judicial Canon25 – Influence of Decision Upon the Development of the Law
- Complainant notes breach of Judicial 25 without reference to specific a conduct. Yet, I reject the accusation that I am in breach of Judicial Cannon 25, or any other Canon and reaffirm my Oath to defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of the land.
Judicial Canon 35 – Abuse of Discretion
- Complaint asserts the Judge violates Judicial Canon 35 when, instead of setting a hearing on the Motion to Vacate, she called for conference. The JIC is kindly requested to take judicial notice of The Liberian Code of Laws Revised, Volume 1, Titles 1-2, Chapter 12 (e). This chapter provides for pretrial conferences and ‘e’ specifically provides for disposition of pending motions during these conferences. The pretrial conference was held consistent with the herein mentioned Chapter 12 of 1LCLR. There is no misuse of judicial discretion here, no violation of Canon 35.
This, is not a case of violation of the canons, or theft, or unauthorized withdrawals, or conditional instructions placed and/or removed from an account, or of alleged harm suffered by complainant; control of accounts receivables, etc., this is simply a case of squandered opportunities and a frantic attempt by Mr. Amos P.K. Brosius to blame Judge Mappy Morgan for his mistakes. This complainant has made sweeping and nonsensical allegations without a shred of evidence or proof thereof. The beginning of the saga turned on what complainant’s counsel alleged MOTC did and requested that this be part of the audit process, to wit: diversion of funds belonging to Ducor by MOTC. That is 3.4 million USD belonging to Ducor Petroleum Inc., for products supplied to Firestone Rubber Plantation was illegal transferred/diverted upon the directive(s) of MOTC to account number 110-12-001471 at Global Bank for MOTC without the consent of Mr. Amos P. K. Brosius. See attached Exhibit Marked as “1/I” proof of the transaction”
This is what comprised the US$3.4 million fable which is being touted and falsely charged against the Judge as stolen, caused to be stolen, or withdrawn, caused to be withdrawn from the account of Ducor Petroleum, Inc. Therefore, complainant’s allegations are not only unfounded, but completely ludicrous. The fact remains that there were not balances of US$3.4 million in Ducor Petroleum’s account at LBDI and/or Ecobank at the time of the filing of this case in June 2013.This US3.4 million transaction was for a period covering sometime from 2006, 2008 to December 2010 according to the exhibits attached by the complainant when he made this written application to the Court. Historical notice is taken of the establishment of the Commercial Court in September 2010; and seating of the Judges in November 2011. This is proof sufficient that neither Judge Mappy Morgan nor any Judge in the Commercial Court could have handled this, and/or any other transaction before its establishment in September 2010, and subsequent opening in November 2011. It is however unfortunate that currently, and since five years or one thousand eight hundred & twenty five days later, the complainant and his cronies have sustained an insidious campaign of libel and slander in an attempt to defame and ruin the Judge’s good name cultivated over the years. From sometime in early February 2015 and counting, neither complainant nor his pathetic cronies or perhaps his paid media
pundits have been able to produce a shred of evidence of these trumped-up charges against the Judge. This allegation defies logic, and makes a US$3.4 million withdrawal, prior to the opening of the court, patently absurd. This, the withdrawal of the imaginary US$3.4 million, was the crux of the complainant and crew’s incessant, unrelenting, and malicious attacks against the Judge’s reputation, and the risk to her life. Complainant’s assertion that US$3.4 million was withdrawn from his account within a 7-month period, equals a monthly withdrawal from LBDI at the rate of US$485,714. These types of large withdrawals are easily verified from the records of both LBDI and the Central Bank of Liberia. Therefore, I urge these yellow journalists and soft-underbelly characters to utilize the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to find whether the Judge stole or caused to be stolen, withdrew or caused to be withdrawn from Ducor Petroleum any amounts of US$3.4 million as charged by complainant and his minnows.
This complainant and all his legions, and certain unscrupulous persons, and sadly some of his lawyers, prone to blackmail, extortion, lies, insinuations, and violence, have yet to produce a scintilla of evidence to substantiate the senseless allegation of theft or unauthorized withdrawal of US$3.4 or even the newly charged US1.3M from the account of Ducor Petroleum. None, Not a Shred! So, borrowing a line from the Sound of Music “Nothing Comes from Nothing, Nothing Ever Could.” Consequently, this Judge could not have stolen or caused to be stolen, withdrawn or caused to be withdrawn a single penny or US$3.4 million dollars, from a non-existent, a nothing account balance.
Now you understand the colossal steps this complainant and his lawyers will take, and continue to take, in their bid to dishonor Chief Judge Mappy Morgan, the Commercial Court and the entire Judiciary. Worth mentioning is complainant’s statement on the record that he did not accuse the Judge of stealing US$3.4 million dollars, and something to the effect that, he was misquoted by the press. In a press interview by complainant, he similarly iterated that he did not accuse the judge of stealing US$3.4 million. The Liberian Daily Observer carried this story on Thursday, 4 October 2018, and said story was also a news broadcast on 1 October 2018. It is sad that some lawyers, desperate for the limelight, wanting to be hailed as fearless, as challenging the judiciary, however ridiculous, will go to any extent in their quest for popularity, to disrespect the court and encourage their clients to defame, caused to be defamed, threaten or caused to be threatened the life of a public servant, a judge.
What a sad commentary for the practice of law in Liberia! As we leapfrog into the year 2020, the complainant filed an amended complaint at the call of the case for hearing on 3 July 2020. In this amended complaint, complainant now accuses the Judge of stealing, or caused to be stolen, withdrawn or caused to be withdrawn US$1.3 million from the account of Ducor Petroleum. As a matter of fact, the filing of the amended complainant is not a surprise, and here is why. Due to complainant’s inability to prove the monthly withdrawal of some US$484,714 from the herein mentioned LBDI account, and knowing fully that his counsels’ letter of 31 March 2014, and his in-court statement of 1 October 2018 exonerates the Judge, he now contrives a new tale of US$1.3 million withdrawn without authorization from the
same LBDI Ducor Petroleum’s account and proffers into evidence some bank statements. It is necessary to note that these ‘verified statements’ of complainant is no proof that the Judge ordered a sequel of unauthorized withdrawal from Ducor Petroleum’s LBDI account. The Judge urges the JIC to subpoena any record to this effect, and/or any record showing a withdrawal of this new and ridiculous charge of US$1.3 million authorized by her. These statements will show that there was not US$3.4 or US$1.3M bank balances, and that Mr. Brosius did not suffer any damages as a result of these non-existent balances withdrawn by MOTC at the instance of Judge Mappy Morgan.
I mentioned above the great lengths Mr. Brosius and his lawyers would go to the defame Judge Mappy Morgan reputation, cast aspersion on the Commercial Court and the entire Judiciary. In a rather very strange, deliberate and calculated attempt to cover their errors, as they now admit, 7 years later and as discovered by Mr. Brosius, these lawyers have, after their testimony also sent in what they referred to as reconfirmation statements of their testimony. The testimony of these lawyers are on the records. Cllr. Wellington Bedell, Sr. testified that he joined the team in 2014. Cllr. Gongloe says he was not informed. Perhaps he forgets Mr. Brosius had many other lawyers besides him. And if any one of such lawyer is informed, it is up to that lawyer to inform his colleagues.
The tragedy here is that Cllr. Necular Y. Edwards who participated in many of the initial proceedings, and specifically, the proceedings leading to the escrowing of US$212,704.36 which triggered the lifting of the Judge’s Stays Orders as explained above, also swears before God that he knows nothing of such proceedings. There were on-going discussions on escrowing the above-mentioned $212,704.36. Because, Judge Mappy Morgan did not want the amount dissipated, and because the Judge had informed the parties that she would issue certain instructions to protect the amount, MOTC than offered to issue a check for the full amount, which was then escrowed. The issue of the checks being stale-dated occurred when on deposit of the 7 checks by Mr. Brosius, two checks totaling US$76K bounced. Again, the lawyers were informed, and Cllr. Necular Edwards participated in these proceedings.
At the call of the case for final argument on 14 August 2020, complainant’s counsel who had since filed his closing legal memorandum, suddenly requestsed a second continuance. Counsel avers he was absent when his client first four witnesses testified. He then requested the minutes of the earlier proceedings to help him answer what he referred to as some of the substantive questions posed by the panel. So, we ask, what then comprised complainant’s closing memorandum? Regrettably, and like counsels before, he simple repeats his client’s version of the events without seeking to do his due diligence of the facts, circumstances and proceedings surrounding this case. Again, this is the method of operation of many of the lawyers in these proceedings who came into the case at various stages, did not do their due diligence and basically restated the purported allegations of theft and a laundry list of their client’s alleged ills. Apparent, is the insurmountable efforts of complainant lawyers, after failing to prove 3.4M theft which continues to be the subject of news, would now go, in their
attempt to hang an ethical violation on Chief Judge Mappy Morgan after some 7 years of the alleged acts of Ex parte Communication and Ex parte Application. Additionally, at the call of the case for final arguments on the date above-mentioned Judge Mappy Morgan received three letters from Cllrs. Tiawon Gongloe & Momolu G. Kandakai of Gongloe & Associates, Necular Y. Edwards of Dean & Associates, and Wellington Bedell, Sr. of Garlawulo & Associates. It is very significant to note that, at the close of their testimonies before the JIC, no written requests for extra written statements confirming their testimonies on the record was made by the JIC. The submission of these extra confirmation statements are simply preposterous, and we respectfully request the JIC institute some basic rules to curtail some of these strange occurrences. Who knows what peculiar happenings will occur during the call of the case for final argument, once again.
Here is Gongloe & Associates assertion amongst others, “…we wish to categorically state for the record that neither Gongloe and Associates, nor any of its lawyers were aware of any of the court’s decision subsequent to Cllr’s Warner’s letter dated July 22, 2013 relating to the subject matter of said letter…”
Here is a very concise answer hoary with the practice in this jurisdiction. Gongloe and Associates, were not the only counsels in this case. If one counsel is informed and represents the clients in a proceeding, that client is represented and it is the duty of counsel appearing for the party to keep his colleagues informed. It is vital to add that although Gongloe and Associates claimed lack of knowledge of this particular occurrence, the very same Cllr. Gongloe on 9 August 2013, signed and executed an Irrevocable Stipulation which removed his client from acting in any capacity for and on behalf of Ducor Petroleum as noted above. This Irrevocable Stipulation signed by Gongloe & Associates is incongruous to Judge Mappy Morgan’s letter of 23 July 2013 which return the account to status quo ante; and to which Mr. Brosuis himself testified as being one of three signatories to the account.
The fact that all counsels may have not been not informed of the letter or notification of the modified orders does not make it an Ex-Parte communication. Here, Gongloe & Associates claim this conduct on part of the Judge was improper; yet these same counsels participated in all proceeding following the letters written in July 2013. Perhaps, these counsels neglected to do their due diligence and because their client now flags, 7years later, that the orders of the Judge was prejudicial, they must agree with him that the Judge erred, otherwise it shows dereliction of duty on their part. Moreover, the essence of this discussion was captured in the Irrevocable Stipulation executed by the parties on 9 August 2013 which was duly signed also by Cllr. Tiawon Gonlge of Gongle & Associates. Most definitely, this counsel who now writes at the close of the scheduled closing arguments, to confirm in writing, his testimony, a very odd practice, was cognizant of all reliefs available, and cannot come by way of a Judicial Inquiry to correct perhaps his inadequacies of not seeking the proper remedy some 7 years later that the Judge engaged in what he termed Ex-Parte Communication or Ex Parte Applications.
Upon being retained as additional counsel, did Gongloe & Associates not consult with other counsels or did they not read the case file? Here is the problem with Gongloe’s & Associates assertions: Judge Mappy Morgan promptly copied NEALA (Cllr. Viama Blama); Tuan Wreh Law Firm (Nyanti Tuan); and Dean& Associates (Necular Edwards) on the 24 July 2013 letter sent to LBDI, lifting the stay orders. Also, please note that Cllrs. Blama, Tuan and Edwards signed the letter of 31 March 2014 which referenced the escrow account, and in which the amount of US$212,704.36 was deposited.
Even assuming that the Judge’s Stay Orders was in error, did they lawyers not have a remedy in appellate review? Is this jurisdiction ready to institute new practices that the discretional authority of a Judge, without of improper conduct on part of said Judge, be a subject of Judicial Inquiry? Is special proceedings in certiorari or prohibition not the proper forum to correct errors and/or prohibit the conduct of a Judge? This is some 7 years later, many of these lawyer, who readily agree, that the Judge erred, fully participated in other proceedings concerning this matter. Did they not see the alleged violation until discovered by Mr. Brosius who is clearly looking for someone to blame for his own failures? Here again are key points to consider a) There was no application for a stay order by either MOTC or Mr. Brosious; b) The stay order was placed by the Judge to ensure that US$212, 704. 36 would not be spent by Ducor, a concern expressed by counsels for and on behalf of Mr. Brosius.
These are some other key points: a) This was Ducor Petroleum’s account, a company in which MOTC owned 90% shares, and Brosius 10% shares according to the records before court; b) The account was operational prior to the Judge’s orders of 15 July 2013. That is, Ducor Petroleum was conducting business on its account prior to the Judges Stay Orders, and returning the account to ‘status quo ante’ was simply returning the account to business as usual; c) Brosius had in his possesion 7 checks valued US$212, 704. 36 which he had refused to deposit in Ducor’s account with concern that the money could be used by the company and that he might not receive portions or a percentage thereof; d) with assurances by court that the money will not be used, the checks were deposited and a letter sent to the bank dated 15 July 2013 that no transaction would issue without instructions from court; e) the purpose of the stay order was to ensure that checks deposited to the value of US$212,704.36 would remain intact, be withdrawn and escrowed. Cllr. Necular Y. Edwards who signed the 31 March 2014 letter referencing the escrow account, also followed the inexplicable process of sending in statements of confirmation after his testimony on the record.
That said, Cllr. Necular Y. Edwards was aware of the escrowing of the amount of US$212,704.36 which triggered lifting of Judge Mappy Morgan Orders and returning the account to status quo ante. See Court Minutes of Monday, 7 April 2014.
“The Petitioner, MOTC is represented by the Heritage Partners & Associates, Inc., in association with Jones & Jones Law Firm and present in Court is Cllr. T. Negbalee who says he has a submission to make after notation of the parties’ representation and respectfully submits; whilst the Respondent, Mr. Amos Brosius is represented by NEALA in association with Dean & Associates, Tuan Wreh Law Firm and Gongle and & Associates; and present in Court are Cllr.Viama Blama, Cllr. Necular Y. Edwards and Cllr. Nynati Tuan and submit.
At this stage, MOTC says that with respect to the balance of money in the escrow account, same being US$76, 600.00, and said balance represents money given by MOTC from Ducor’s current account with LBDI to this Court as value for two checks from Jackson F. Doe Hospital to Ducor, which checks were in fact dishonored for insufficient funds as can be clearly seen from the records of this case, MOTC says because the checks were not paid, the money it did give this Court on account or receiving the said checks should be returned to MOTC as a matter of law, equity and justice”
The Respondent, Mr. Amos Brosius says that on 24th July A.D. 2013, the Heritage Partners & Associates, Inc., under the signature of Atty. Abrahim B. Sillah, Sr., submitted to this court a check (CA11391) valued at US$212,704.36 as per account number of the aforesaid letter of July 24, 2013 at the LBDI. One of counsels says the he interposes no objection as to the amount prayed for by the Petitioner to be placed in the account that the said money was withdrawn from for the sake of Justice and fair play; that is to say, US$76,600.00 placed into the Commercial Court Escrow Account established at the Afriland First Bank to be transferred into account number 002USD21215153401 in the name of Ducor Petroleum housed at the LBDI Bank.”
I respectfully remind the JIC that the complainant is yet to prove unethical the orders to return Ducor Petroleum, Inc., account to status quo ante; an account on which the company transacted business prior to the Judge’s 15 July 2013 Stay Orders. Unless, an abuse of the Judge’s judicial duties, the sound discretion of the Judge in this instance, if not a subject of appellate review, should never be a subject of judiciary inquiry. This process if allowed, is a sure erosion of judicial independence and a blatant approach to coerce and badger judges into submission.
It is apparent that all other accusations against Judge Mappy Morgan has failed. However, one can see the concerted efforts of these counsels urging the JIC to punish the Judge. There might be no issue of punishment if the Judge is in violation of the Judicial Canons. Let’s pause for a second and consider, what exactly is the ethical transgression here? Assuming, the Judge lifted an order she placed, is this not within the Judge’s authority to do so? And where counsels later find this Order contrary to law, do they not have a remedy in appellate review? Is this jurisdiction ready to institute new practices that the discretional authority of a Judge, without proven mis-conduct on part of said Judge, a subject of Judicial Inquiry? Is special proceedings before the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia not the proper forum to correct errors and/or prohibit the conduct of a Judge? Does violation of a canon equates to a capital offense such that it be may be commenced at any time after the alleged violation occurred? Really, there is even limitation on certain crimes. After some 7 years later, it feels like prosecution, and continuous ridicule for a now alleged violation of a canon which occurred in 2013, and suddenly found in 2020. This is not good. Certainly, it creates undue apprehension in the performance of the Judge’s duty, and affects the effective administration of the justice and the rule of law. I must reiterate the chilling effect this type of practice will have on the performance of Judges.
In any case, Judge Mappy Morgan has recused herself from the case in letters addressed to Honorable Chief Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia in consonance with Article V (3) of the Act creating the Commercial Court which reads “…Accordingly, I request assignment of another judge to preside over the matter referenced above as I’m unable to proceed given the very troubling and nefarious trend this matter has taken. It appears from the complaint filed by Mr. Brosius before the Honorable Chief Justice, who has since forwarded same to the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), that Mr. Brosius believes that I have violated his Constitutional rights. Until this matter is settled by the JIC, it is prudent that I do not preside over it.”
A follow-up letter dated 8 February 2019 reads in part “…On 13 August 2018, I informed Your Honor that it was prudent that I not preside over this matter due to a violation of rights claim filed against me with the Judicial Inquiry Commission in the matter above. Therefore, this request for appointment of an ad hoc judge.”
Listen, there is a Freedom of Information (FOI) law passed in Liberia. It is available to anyone in search of information, of fair, balanced and professional reporting and/or some basic understanding of this matter. This sustained fabricated, spiteful and nonsensical narrative of Judge Mappy Morgan stealing US$3.4 million; authorizing withdrawal of US$1.3 million from Ducor Petroleum’s account at LBDI; having control and custody of Ducor Petroleum’s receivables in the amount of US$2,910,223.99; presiding over foreclosure of Mr. Brosius mortgage; denying Mr. Brosius access to his non-existent account, modifying the Judges’ order to suspend transactions on Ducor Petroleum’s account, not complainant’s account; and any litany of these allegations can be fact check through records at LBDI, Central Bank of Liberia, and the records of the Commercial Court of Liberia. Therefore, no amount of bombastic rhetoric, false and malicious accusations, will change the facts, the evidence, and/or morph into non-existent ethical violations.
That said, I now make the following submissions:
- The evidence as contained complainant’s letter of 31 March 2014, shows the legal and/or factual impossibility of authorizing and/or stealing US$3.4M from Ducor’s Petroleum account at LBDI;
- The evidence shows balance brought forward in accounts at LBDI and Ecobank as US$180,705.36 (one hundred & eighty thousand, seven hundred five dollars & thirty six cents) US$48,500 (forty eight thousand, five hundred dollars), when the case was filed on 17 June 2013;
- The evidence as contained in complainant’s amended complainant reveals that no such balance of US$1.3 million existed at the filing of this case on17 June 2013 and/or any time during the period 23 July to 8 August 2013;
- The evidence shows that there was no stay order request from MOTC or Brosius;
- The evidence shows that Ducor Petroleum, Inc., operated and transacted business on its account prior the instructions from Judge that all transactions on the account must be accompanied by letter from the said Judge;
- The evidence shows that Complainant lost nothing due the instructions the Judge placed on the account;
Here is another very, very feeble attempt by complaint to pass the buck to the Judge and/or the Court for his blunders as we entered the world of ‘account receivables’. The complainant charges that the Court had control over accounts receivables, but fails to show how the court gained control and custody of Ducor Petroleum’s accounts receivables. So, what is account receivables and why must there be a showing by complainant that the Judge or Court had control or custody of these accounts receivables? According to a learned CPA, account receivables in simple terms: “I sell goods to you on credit or render services to you to be paid for at a later date. The value of the goods sold on credit and the services rendered to be paid for at a later date are accounts receivables in the seller and service provider’s books.” That being said, complainant who accuses the Judge and/or the Court of having control or custody must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the Judge or Court not only had knowledge of the goods sold or services rendered, but also authorized and directed Ducor Petroleum customer(s) in the conduct of paying for these goods sold and/or services rendered
- The evidence shows no communication written by the Judge to customers of Ducor Petroleum concerning collection of alleged accounts receivables and/or instructions to deposit in accounts of the said Ducor Petroleum;
- The evidence shows no ex parte application or communication between the Judge and MOTC;
- The evidence reveals that the amount of US$212,704,36 as deposited by MOTC, was withdrawn and escrowed at Afriland First Bank; in satisfaction of complainant Brosius’ concern that deposit to Ducor Petroleum’s account could deprive him of all and/or any of his percentage on this amount;
- The evidence shows that following deposit and withdrawal of the amount of US$212,704.36 and returning the account to status quo ante on 23 July 2013, complainant Brosius, 10% minority shareholder, and MOTC, 90% majority shareholder, thereafter executed the herein mentioned Irrevocable Stipulation Agreement which removed complainant from the conduct of any transaction for and on behalf of Ducor Petroleum;
- The evidence shows complainant was represented by counsel at all material times, with combined experience of 300 hundred years or more. Certainly, these lawyers would have sought the appropriate relief on information that the Judge had returned the account to status quo ante, since it is complainant’s new allegation that this single conduct caused irreparable loss to him;
- The evidence reveal that complainant’s representation at all times in these proceedings included some of the country’s oldest, distinguished and competent law practices such as Pierre Tweh & Associates, Dean & Associates, NEALA, Tuah Wreh, Gongloe & Associates, and Garlawolu & Associates, amongst others;
Clearly, this is a fishing expedition by complainant. What is rather concerning is that Judges would be subjected to such grueling exercise once a claim, no matter how ridiculous, is made. For example, it is said that Judges are allegedly subject to judicial inquiry for a) failure to complete rulings (a Madamus remedy, not Judicial Inquiry); b) accused of requesting some LRD$7,000 to LRD$10,000.00 and have been constrained to travel over 5 hours for hearing (a simple call from the supervising Justice can save hours spent on hearings; ensuring that the judge attends to substantive matters, instead of being grilled for such ludicrous charges); c)requesting law license from persons practicing before them (a requirement for the practice of law in Liberia) how is this a subject of judicial inquiry?
There is undoubtedly many improper conduct by Judges, and the evidence is peppered in countless opinions of the Honorable Supreme Court. So, how might one determine a tenable or untenable complaint, balancing the interest of both complainant and respondent Judge? How might we ensure and uplift the confidence level of the public in the Judiciary with the undue publicity attending some of these cases, and gullible public that believes anything published ?
Allow me to reaffirm some relevant statements of my 14 August 2013 response to complainant’s initial rights violations complaint in regards to claims before the JIC. “Public confidence in the Judiciary is very low. Unless, the Judiciary stands up in protection of its integrity, and in protection of its many honest public servants who are committed to their jobs, who strive daily to uphold the Constitution and defend the rule of law; it will continue to be the brunt of public ridicule based on misrepresentations, innuendoes, insinuations and half-baked truths. Even this process of subjecting judges to baseless allegations on part of litigants tints the record of the judge in particular, and the Judiciary in general. This is not to say that allegations are not investigated. This simply means, for me, that an inquiry into a judge’s character cast some blemish on the hard-earned reputation of commitment and diligence that the judge has built over the years, and continuously strives to maintain. Therefore, it might help if these allegations are filtered before transcending the level of the Honorable Supreme Court. Unfounded as I find these assertion, I welcome the opportunity of due process for both parties. But I am particularly weary of how far it has travelled, and how far some persons would go to smear, and bring into public disgrace the name of the Judiciary. The optics for the Judiciary is not pleasing”
This situation on defaming Judges is grave, and is increasingly becoming part this culture. If only these were preposterous charges, one might caution Judges to continue to grow an extra layer of skin. Regrettably, these allegations are not only farcical charges of unauthorized withdrawal of million by a judge in 7 months or 16 days, but are venomous and sustained attacks by such persons against the judge’s life and reputation. Put simply, this is HATE SPEECH. This type of speech has seeped into the Liberian narrative and has become part of the ‘new normal’, part of our daily conversation. Speech with the propensity to cause violence to certain groups of people in the society for whatever reason, should never be tolerated or its advocates, lionized. We need to stop the hate. It is time we lay down the law on hate speech!
Finally, in view of the facts and circumstances herein stated, I respectfully request dismissal of the unproven charges of a) alleged theft of US$3.4M; b) unauthorized withdrawal of US$1.3M by MOTC at my instructions; c) alleged harm to Mr. Brosius pursuant to the lifting of instructions placed on account by the Judge; d)control/custody of Ducor’s account receivables; d) violations of Judicial Canons 10,23,24,25,35.
Eva Mappy Morgan, SCL
Chief Judge, Commercial Court Liberia