MONROVIA: The Judge of Criminal "D" at the Temple of Justice, Yussif D. Kaba, on Friday, October 5, 2013 sentenced one of the sequestrated jurors in the Mercenarism trial to one month imprisonment in a common jail in Montserrado County for providing the court false information.
Criminal Court "D" at the Temple of Justice situated at Capitol Hill, Monrovia, Liberia had for the past four months been conducting trial for 18 Liberians charged for alleged mercenary activities in Liberia and neighboring Ivory Coast. But those indicted have since pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Jeremy Neufville, one of the jurors sitting on the case was accused by government lawyers of providing false information to the court about himself and his relations. In a complaint filed by government lawyers called "Bill of Information", the juror was accused of filling the jury information form calling himself Jeremy Neufville, his father as Paul S. Dweh Neufville, his wife as Hawa Sonii Neufville and his two children as Prince Neufville and Carlos Neufville. The jury information form is a form used by the court to solicit information from potential juror.
The information given by juror Jeremy Neufville on the form according to government lawyers is untrue. In their Bill of Information, government lawyers informed the court that investigation conducted by them reveals that the actual name of the juror is Jereme Dweh, while the names of his father, wife and children are Paul S. Dweh, Hawa Sonii Dweh, Prince Dweh and Carlos Dweh respectively. They claim that the act of Jeremy Neufville is a gross dishonesty for which reason he should be removed from the panel.
Considering the gravity of the matter, the presiding judge, Yussif D. Kaba ordered an investigation into the Bill of Information.
To prove its case, the government lawyers produced the subpoena records of the subscribers of the two cell phone numbers filled out on the jury form by juror Neufville which records bear the names and photos of Jereme Dweh and Paul S. Dweh and not Jeremy Neufville and Paul S. Dweh Neufville as filled out on the form.
The prosecution also produce a jury information form from Criminal Court "A" at the Temple of Justice filled in by the accused juror for the May 2013 Term of Court the same term he filled in the form for Criminal Court "D" in which he bears the name Jeremy Dweh and the names Paul S. Dweh, Binta Hawa Dweh, Prince Dweh and Carlos Dweh for his father, wife and children respectively.
The prosecution also produced records of the former place of work of juror Neufville which carries the name Jereme Dweh and rested its case.
When Juror Neufville came took the witness stand, he informed the court that he had two names, Jeremy Dweh and Jeremy Neufville which he used interchangeably. He indicated that had to change his last name to Neufville because another person whose name was been sent by the commissioner carried the last name Dweh so as to avoid being rejected.
He went on to say that the reason the prosecution raised these issues is because of the held belief of the prosecution that he, Juror Neufville is a Krahn man. Juror Neufville said further that sometimes before the filing of the information to the court, the prosecution through Bailiff Williams had contacted him and informed him that the prosecution knows that the name he placed on the form is not his real name and that in order for him, Juror Neufville, alias Juror Dweh not to be exposed and made to be incarcerated for three years he must vote in favor of the prosecution and persuade the other jurors who are not in favor of the government to return a verdict in favor of the government. He accused prosecution of offering them bribe to return verdict in favor of government.
After having made all these counter allegations, juror Jeremy Neufville came to be crossed examined. During the cross examination the prosecution asked juror Neufville about those things he is accused of in the Bill of Information whether they are true or not.
He confirmed or admitted to prosecution claims but said that his action was not deliberate but that he did it in good faith and said that he was not planted by anyone and that he was not a krahn man. Lawyers for the government then rested with him and asked the court rule on the matter since the one accused already admits to the act.
Lawyers representing juror Neufville objected to said request by the prosecution and the court to continue with the hearing and allow the other witness of Jeremy Neufville to testify.
At this point, Judge Kaba made it clear that that the investigation being conducted was to inquire into juror mis-conduct and not to determine criminality. According to him, "the measure of evidence during an investigation is not the same as the measure of evidence in a criminal trial".
In juror misconduct investigation, the measure of evidence is preponderance of evidence while in criminal trial it is conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The judge reiterated that in criminal trial the rules of evidence are straightly applied and religiously followed while in investigation of juror misconduct those straight applications of the rules are not followed.
He then went on to say that the only issues before the court are whether or not there is a legal admission by the accused juror to warrant a finding on the Bill of Information in favor of the Informant or government lawyers and whether this investigation should be continued inspite of the an admission to establish the allegation by the accused juror of jury tampering and/or attempted jury tampering by the prosecution.
To the first issue the judge said that Juror Neufville's admission to those things he was accused of, his disregard of those warnings that were given to all jurors by him the presiding judge for them to report anyone who contacts them on the case, the oath taken prior to the filling in of the form to provide information that is true and correct to the best of his knowledge and the signing of the very form which has embedded in it just before the signature of the juror that information provided on the form are true and correct to the best of his knowledge amongst others constitute material misleading information for which Jeremy Neufville alias Jereme Dweh needs to be held to answer.
As to the second issue of jury tampering or attempted jury tampering, the judge said that the court considers those allegations very serious and that it discredits the integrity of every member of the impaneled jurors selected to hear and determine the facts in the matter. The judge said that since the allegation of juror Jeremy Neufville alias Jereme Dweh is criminal in nature, he advised that an investigation be conducted by the competent authority to ascertain the veracity of the allegation.
At the same time, Judge Kaba has ordered the disbandment of the entire panel of jury in the Mercenarism Trial and subsequently awarded a new trial.
He also suspended the payment of per diems to members of the panel until and unless the investigation by competent authority vindicates them with the proviso that if the investigation is not commenced within one month of the court ruling the clerk is ordered to issue out certificate of payment to all members of the panel with the exception of Jeremy Neufville who by his conduct forfeit of any such payment.
Meanwhile, the defense counsels excepted to the ruling of Judge Yussif Kaba and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court for the March Term of Court while juror Jeremy Neufville alias Jereme Dweh was taken to the Monrovia Central Prison to serve his one month prison sentence.