16 January 2013

Liberia: 'Manifest Necessity' Puts Armed Robbery Trial On Hold

The Criminal Court "D" established to try armed robbery cases in Monrovia has suspended matters in the case of 'Armed Robbery' charge against Liberian Journalist Darlington Pelenah and two others. Judge James Zotaa based his judgment on 'manifest necessity' and ruled that a new trial be held during the February term thereby disbanding the entire panel jury and re-docketing the case with priority.

It can be recalled that last week, the prosecution in the case of armed robbery charge against Journalist Pelenah and others informed the court that two jurors within the panel were sent to serve the Judiciary by the clerk of the commissioner's office and not the commissioner herself.

A communication from the commissioner indicated that indeed the names forwarded from her office were not to her knowledge or consent.

Prosecution prayed the court to investigate the matter, a submission that was granted the State. Meanwhile, when the investigation began, defense counter information to the court was that the two jurors refused to accept monies from prosecution to bring down a guilty verdict against the defendants.

Prosecution resisted and further informed the court that by the counter information put forth by defense, it signaled clearly that the jurors had been in contact with the defense which was a violation of the jury law.

The court, not wishing to have a miscarriage of Justice decided to disband the jury taking judicial notice that the February term of court is in sight and is awarding a new trial before a jury that would not be accused of being tampered with as in the case of the present jurors.

The court's decision is based on the fact that the jury-tampering could be from either side of the legal parties.

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