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Judge shuts out late lawyers

High Court Judge Esmie Chombo Thursday turned into what she called “a very bad head teacher” when she ordered the closure of court doors for all lawyers who were late for the ongoing K2.4 billion Cashgate case.

Chombo said any lawyer who was not in the court and had not given a brief to any of his fellow lawyers would not be allowed to enter the courtroom as the tendency is proving disrespectful to the legal profession.

She was saying this just after sitting on her bench and observing that there were five out of over 10 defence lawyers in the room.

“We are not going to allow counsels coming late like this. We will close the door for them. If counsels can’t keep time, we are not giving the profession the respect it deserves. Any counsels that have not given an excuse; we have closed doors for them,” Chombo said.

She then ordered lead defence lawyer Titus Mvalo to act as a prefect and turn away all his late colleagues and said progress of the case is dependent on strict time keeping.

It is not known as to how many lawyers were not allowed to enter the room but the afternoon court utterances confirmed the turning away of two defence lawyers.

One of the two lawyers apologised to the Judge for arriving late in the morning and said he had no excuse as his office is very near to Lilongwe City Council civic offices where the court is sitting for the case.

“My apologies to the clients who had no representation in the morning and were just like orphans,” the lawyer said.

The case has 19 accused persons, a total of over 16 State and defence lawyers and over 30 State witnesses of which seven have been paraded since the hearing started in February this year.

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