LIBERIA: Gloria Scott Pleads Not Guilty
The Government is now under legal obligation to prove the indictment against former Chief Justice Gloria Musu-Scott and three others; after the defendants pleaded not guilty to the crimes levied against them.
Appearing in court Monday, August 28, 2023, the indictment was read before the defendants; as they all raised their right hands to the sky and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
After the plea of not guilty, the stage was set for the case to commence, beginning with the jury selection.
In a rather critical mood, the former Chief Justice and other defendants were watching with keen interest as prosecutor lawyers proceeded with the jury selection.
Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie temporarily suspended the jury selection process after one of the prosecuting lawyers was caught asking technical questions to the suspected jurors with an intent of inflencing them.
Judge Willie told Cllr. Livingstone that he was proceeding outside of the laws that qualify a jury.
Before former chief Justice not guilty plea, government lawyers again suffered setback in their Motion for Change of Venue which was filed on Friday, August 25, 2023.
This is the second time state prosecutors have filed for Change of Venue but was later withdrawn by them for reasons best known to themselves.
Judge Willie denied the Motion for Change of Venue and mandated that the trial be proceeded with; but government lawyers took exception to the matter.
Judge Willie in his ruling asked a single question which is; should the court grant prosecution Motion for Change of Venue in keeping with the laws cited?
He answered that the Supreme Court interpreted all of the provisions related to change of venue and that is found in 29LLR page 35 paragraph one which says that the provision of the statue with respect to the change is mandatory and not descriptory by the court; as such, it should be induced by the judge.
According to him, it is the right of the defendants to request for Change of Venue or not but shouldn’t be imposed by government lawyers.
The Judge of Criminal Court “A” said to get a Venue of Change of Publicity; state prosecutors should show evidence of how it injures them to include; recordings, newspapers, video recordings among others.
Presenting their case for the Motion for Change of Venue, government lawyers relied on Chapter 5 Section 5.7 of the Criminal Procedure Law and Chapter 25 Section 25.6 of the Civil Procedure Law.
Prosecution argued that the presence of media practitioners since June of this year and jurors hearing the matter might mislead them.
In resistance, Cllr. Jimmy Bombo said the motion filed was to delay the trial, waste state resources and to keep the defendants Cllr. Scott and three others in jail for no reasons.
He contended that the alleged crime Murder, Criminal Conspiracy and False Statements to Law Enforcement Officers were done in Monsterrado County.
Cllr. Bombo added that Madam Scott who had served as Chief Justice of the Liberia, Justice Minister and Senator of Maryland County is a prominent person and it gives attention but like the regular person or defendant so removing the matter out of town due to the media involvement is premature because media people will follow the case.
The defense team cited Civil Procedure Law Chapter 5.7 style Change of place of prosecution but stressed on 5.7.1 which states that “Motion of the prosecuting attorney or defendant, the court may order the proceedings in a criminal prosecution transferred to a competent court in another county.”
The defendants were arrested, charged and indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on the crimes of Murder, Criminal Conspiracy and False Alarm to Law Officials.