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Judge assaults lawyer

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By Mandy Pondani:

High Court Judge Dorothy de Gabrielle of the Mzuzu Registry has come under fire for harassing and assaulting lawyer Bright Theu Tuesday.

Theu confirmed the development but could not divulge much information saying he is working on a petition with assistance from another legal counsel in Malawi Law Society (MLS) to move Parliament to impeach the judge.

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The petition also seeks to move Judicial Service Commission to act on the matter.

“I am in the process of drafting a petition. The best is for you to wait for a copy,” said Theu, who later complained that the Mzuzu Registry is refusing to release the audio record of the proceedings on the material day.

But one of the lawyers who witnessed the incident and has asked for anonymity said Theu had a matter before Justice de Gabrielle, which was dismissed and he had applied for its restoration.

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According to the source, the court did not pronounce as to whether it had restored the case but, instead, just ordered that hearing of the main matter should proceed, a development which did not go down well with Theu.

“The position of the court was not clear. It did not give out a clear order. The counsel insisted that he wanted to get it clear whether his matter had be restored to the cause list first, Court of Appeal Registrar Agnes Patemba yesterday said the Judiciary is aware of the altercation between the judge and Theu but not any assault.

On the other complaints about the judge’s conduct, Patemba said: “The Judiciary has not received any complaint and, therefore, officially I am not in a position to respond. I, however, doubt the authenticity of the document circulating because I would not believe that, if indeed such issue has been raised, the Malawi Law Society would raise it with the media first before bringing it to appropriate authorities.”

De Gabrielle and Mzuzu Registry Registrar Brian Sambo did not pick our calls for their comments.

President Peter Mutharika in October 2016 appointed Joseph Chigona, de Gabrielle, Ruth Chinangwa and George Bakuwa as High Court judges.

Before her appointment, de Gabrielle was chairing Industrial Relations Court.

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