Liberia: Judge Declines to Quit Murder Trial

Criminal Court "A" Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie has denied defense counsels motion seeking his recusal from an ongoing murder trial, terming as falsehood, defense's claim that his neutrality is seriously compromised.

In the murder trial of defendants Emmett Hoff, Emmanuel Gibson and Solomon Gibson, one of defense's claims for seeking Judge Willie's recusal is that while the case was ongoing, he allowed the family members of the deceased to sit in his chambers along with prosecuting attorney.

In their judgment, the defense believe that this alleged act of the judge seriously compromises the neutrality of the Judge for which he should recuse himself.

"[The] Court says this is a falsehood and intended to bring the Judge and the Court into public disrepute," Judge Willie says.

Opposed to the defense's claim, Judge Willie recalls that on one occasion of the trial and during representation, prosecutors informed the court that one of the defendants, Emmett Hoff, while in prison was texting prosecution's witnesses that they will be dealt with in any manner and form, [were] they to appear and testify for prosecution against them.

Having raised this concern, Judge Willie notes that prosecutors sought the court's intervention for their witnesses' protection.

According to Judge Willie, defense lawyer Wellington Bedell informed the court that they would such matter to be handled in the judge's chambers and begged for same to be done.

He continues that prosecution did not oppose this suggestion, following which the court granted the request and the parties including those making the allegation proceeded to the judge's chambers for a conference.

"... This was the only interaction the Judge had in his Chambers with the Parties in the presence of those making the allegation and, this conference was initiated by the Movants/Defendants. How now, this has compromised the cool neutrality of the Judge for which he should recuse himself. This ground is of nullity and therefore is also denied," he rules.

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