S/C Reserves Ruling In Sieh, Cooper Land Dispute Case By:Yassah J Wright

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The Supreme Court of Liberia has entertained legal argument in a land dispute case involving Rodney D. Sieh and Agriculture Minister Jeanie M. Cooper and reserved ruling into the matter. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sie-A-NyeneYouh speaking on behalf of the full bench said that the High Court haven listened to arguments from the parties’ lawyers will come up with a ruling at a later date. Prior to Thursday hearing, Rodney D Sieh’s lawyer, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi asked the High Court to dismiss an appeal filed by lawyers representing Minister Cooper. Cllr. Massaquoi in his argument before the Supreme Court said that on March 12, 2021, a writ of summons was served on Jeanie M. Cooper, Mr. Alex on March 24, 2021, William G. Findley filed an Answer to the said Complaint and informed the court that the writ was improperly served upon his person, (William G. Findley) was not the proper party Defendant but rather his landlord, Co-onse to the said summons, while Co-Appellant Elise Cooper was not found within theco-appellant Jeanie M. Cooper.  The records reveal Cooper failed to appear in response to the said summons, while co-appellant Elise Cooper was not found within Liberia. On April 16, 2021, Madam Cooper represented by Cllr. Joyce Woods filed a motion for enlargement of time; the Appellee interposed no objection same was granted by the court below on June 14, 2021, in accordance with law. Accordingly, the court below ordered the Co-Appellant Cooper to file her answer in response to the averments as contained in the Complaint, within three (3) days. On August 13, 2021, nearly two months after said Co-Appellant was ordered to file her Answer, the Co-Appellant reluctantly did so and attached certified copy of a warranty deed together with letters of administration of the Intestate Estate of John L. Cooper and Julius Cooper, with one Rueben Cooper, as Co-Administrator of said Estate. Thus, pleadings rested after the appellee filed his reply in response to the averments as contained in the answer, on August 25, 2021. At the call of the case for disposition of law issues, both factual and law issues raised in the pleadings were deposed of and the case ruled to trial on the merits.  Having conducted investigative survey to establish the ownership of the subject property, the absence of the Co-Appellant Cooper was observed without any written excuse to justify her absence from said investigative survey process. On February 24th, 2022, however, Cllr. Woods declined to provide further legal representation on behalf of said the Co-Appellant subsequently withdrew her legal representation from the Co-Appellant, in accordance with law.  It is important to note that said Co-Appellant was represented by Clir. Woods at the Paynesville Magisterial Court, after the Co-Appellant intervened on behalf of one Alex Garley, who has entered lease agreement with the Cooper’s Estate represented by its Administrators. Consequently, the writ for summary proceedings to recover possession of real property was dismissed because title was in issue, and either party was advice to venue the matter with the proper forum relative to the relief sought for, as required by law.On March 14th, 2022, the Co-Appellant filed a motion for special appearance with the court below for want of jurisdiction over her person and contended that the writ of summons was improperly served. The Co-Appellant contended that the issue of the ejectment lawsuit was only brought to her attention after a publication of a local daily newspaper of February 28, 2022, which mentioned Appellant as a party Defendant. Appellant insinuated that predicated upon the said publication, she sought legal advice from a lawyer who informed her that Cllr. Woods had already made legal representations for all the Co-Defendants to include madam Cooper in the court below. Further, Appellant contended that at no time the services of Cllr. Woods was retained to represent her legal interest in the said ejectment lawsuit and insinuated that the court’s precepts was not served on her, it would have been presented to Cllr. Woods to represent her interest. On March 17th, 2022, Appellee filed his resistance to the motion for special appearance and contended that the Appellant and Alex Garley were brought under the jurisdiction of the court below after the court’s precepts were properly served according to the Sheriff’s return. The Appellee contended further that the Appellant through her lawyer filed a motion for enlargement of time and subsequently filed an answer containing certified copy of warranty deed and letters of administration on August 16, 2021. The records reveal that an investigation was launched to ascertain whether Cllr. Woods was retained by Appellant, to represent her legal interest in the ejectment lawsuit. It was established that the Appellant admitted that her sister in person of Elise Cooper encouraged her to forward the said court’s precepts to Cllr. Woods, after it was presented to Appellant by Bill Findley, a tenant of the Cooper’s Estate. It was also established that Elise Cooper admitted in open court that Appellant’s driver took the certified copy of warranty deed and letters of administration to Cllr. Woods, who in return attached such instruments to the Answer herein. Consequently, the court below held that Cllr. Woods was duly retained by Appellant, and Appellant having filed her Answer in response to the complainant, there was no basis to entertain the motion for special appearance. 

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