Judge Johannes Zogbay Zlahn of the Civil Law Court on Wednesday blasted at Lawyers for failing to appear in court on time to represent their clients adequately despite being hugely paid they do demand from them.
Presiding Judge Zlahn, who has presided over civil cases for the last two terms of court, said while some lawyers performed well others failed to present their clients adequately as provided by law.
“We note with unequivocal disappointment and sadness that while some of the lawyers who appeared before us during the December 2014 Term of this court adequately represented their clients, but some of the lawyers were negligent and derelict in the representations of their clients despite they were handsomely paid by their clients,” said Judge Zlahn.
Judge Zlahn further said that in many cases, lawyers who were served, received and signed for notices of assignment duly issued by the court, notifying them to appear for the hearing of their clients’ cases, failed without any justifiable reason to appear for such hearing.
He continued that in several cases lawyers who requested for assignments failed to appear when their cases were called for hearing and that such conduct on the part of lawyers constitutes legal malpractice and a violation of Rule 21 of the Code of Moral Professional Ethics, which provides that lawyers should be punctual in their attendance in court.
According to the Judge the act on the part of lawyers not to honor court notices of assignment is “contemptuous, unprofessional and unethical”.
He warned that moving forward he would hold in contempt, without exception, any lawyer who fails to attend to notices of assignments.
“Punishment for a criminal contempt maybe by fine, not exceeding $100 in the Circuit Court or by imprisonment in a jail located in the county where the court is sitting” said Judge Zlahn.
In the March 2015 Term of the Civil Law Court Judge Zlahn reiterated that the court would not allow any lawyer who have not paid his or her annual dues to the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), and that there will be no exception to this requirement even if the lawyer in question is admitted to the Supreme Court Bar to practice before his court.