US Court Says Moroccos Justice Is Fundamentally Fair Upholds 123 Million

New York – The US Federal Court of Appeals upheld the Moroccan Court’s judgment to enforce a $123 million fine that the US District Court had refused on the DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration case.According to a The Washington Post report by Eugene Volokh, last August a $123 million judgment in Morocco was denied by the Texas District Court. The foreign judgment was denied because it was allegedly “not rendered under a system that provides impartial tribunals and procedures compatible with due process.”However, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overruled the District Court’s decision on Wednesday and upheld the original claim, demonstrating that the Moroccan judiciary is in fact compatible with the “international due process standard”. To justify its ruling against Morocco, the Texas court used a 2010 report from the US Agency of International Development (USAID) entitled “Morocco Rule of Law Report,” according to which Moroccan citizens feel that “there is a widely held perception that corruption is tolerated, that a political and security elite act with impunity, and that strong actions are taken against those who would challenge power.”According to the same report, the Moroccan judiciary is “permeable to political influence”, and its judges are “vulnerable to political retribution.”Nevertheless, in the DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, there was no evidence that “the King or anyone else in Morocco these days cares about [DeJoria] at all or even remembers who he is or the bad acts he perpetrated.”The Fifth Circuit ruled Morocco’s system as “fundamentally fair” and enforced the judgment because “a case of serious injustice must be involved” to rule otherwise.Under the Texas Recognition Act on foreign judgments, “[T]he statute requires only the use of procedures compatible with the requirements of due process. [T]he foreign proceedings need not comply with the traditional rigors of American due process to meet the requirements of enforceability under the statute.”Azzedine Kabbaj, a Moroccan attorney with 35 years of experience testified in the case to defend the Kingdom’s judicial system. Kabbaj said the Moroccan system “places great emphasis” on giving “actual notice” of lawsuits to defendants, hears experts’ opinions, and provides defendants the right to appeal.Abed Awad, an adjunct professor at Rutgers University School of Law, said that Moroccan and American commercial courts follow the same procedures. Morocco’s judicial system does “adher[e] to international standards.”The same USAID report said the Monarchy “has made judicial reform one of its key objectives,” to “make strides” in ruling according to the rule of law as a critical factor in its development.Despite addressing Morocco’s lack of judicial independence, the report stated that the “Monarchy’s interest in reforming the justice sector is a positive sign.”The World Bank also recognized the Moroccan judiciary as “indisputable” with an “enhanced drive toward an independent judiciary.”The State Department confirmed that Morocco’s reforms are “intended to increase judicial independence and impartiality.”The Texas Recognition Act requires that a “debtor” prove the lack of an “impartial tribunal or procedures compatible with due process so as to justify routine non-recognition of the foreign judgments.”In the DeJoria v. Maghreb case, based on the evidence, DeJoria failed to prove his appeal. The US Court of Appeals ruled, “We cannot agree that the Moroccan judicial system lacks sufficient independence such that fair litigation in Morocco is impossible.”The due process requirement is not “intended to bar the enforcement of all judgments of any foreign legal system that does not conform its procedural doctrines to the latest twist and turn of our courts.” Therefore, Moroccan judgments need not be disregarded.There was no evidence that an American did not “receive due process or impartial tribunals” in Morocco. There was no evidence of an anti-American sentiment in Morocco, since US companies do business in the Kingdom.Moreover, the judicial system in Morocco is not in “complete collapse,” nor was there evidence of a disregard for the “rule of law”. Thus, the Moroccan judiciary does not “offend against basic fairness,”The case was not considered a “serious injustice,” “fundamentally unfair,” or “incompatible with due process.” The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overruled the district court’s decision, trusting the Moroccan judicial system as no evidence was found on the contrary.PHOTO: SUSAN WALSH/ASSOCIATED PRESS© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission

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