Indiana lawyer helped reporter win in Africa

Rebecca Berfanger
January 1, 2008
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A case where an African country's government was accused of kidnapping and torturing a journalist was decided on June 5 in favor of the reporter and his family.

Indianapolis attorney Dan Byron assisted the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa, which filed the suit on behalf of Chief Ebrima Manneh.

Byron spent October and November in Africa and has remained in touch with the foundation's attorneys since then.

In what Byron called a "good day for human rights and press rights in West Africa" and "a solid win," this ruling marks the first such case to be heard by the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria.

"The regime of President Yahya Jammeh consistently denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the journalist, and has demonstrated gross disrespect for the ECOWAS court by refusing to cooperate throughout the proceedings," according to a release from the Media Foundation of West Africa.

The decision announced that Manneh's arrest and detention was illegal, and ordered Gambian authorities to release him. The court also awarded a total of $100,000 (U.S.) in damages to Manneh, to be paid by The Gambia government.

"Media Foundation for West Africa welcomes this decision by the ECOWAS court. We therefore call on The Gambia to respect and enforce the judgment in accordance with laid down procedures," the release stated.

Indiana Lawyer first reported about Byron's involvement with the West Africa Media Foundation in the Dec. 12-23, 2007, edition, "Advancing press freedoms."

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues