By Lincoln G. Peters
A court in Monrovia has fined Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Nyantee Tuan for attempting to interfere with jurors and disrobed him from the ongoing trial of former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott.
Criminal Court ‘A’ Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie suspended the trial following chambers conference on allegation that Cllr. Tuan entered the premises of the Temple of Justice at 8:00pm with several police officers while trial jurors were being sequestrated.
Cllr. Tuan is fined an amount of US$250.00 to be paid in the Judiciary’s account within 72 hours or three days, effective as of the date of the ruling.
Cllr. Scott and her family members Rebecca Youdeh Wilson, Gertrude Newton, and Alice C. Johnson are facing trial for murder, criminal conspiracy, and [providing] false reports to law enforcement officials.
They were sent to court Thursday, 22 June 2023 and subsequently after several months of police investigation about the murder of Cllr. Scott’s daughter Charloe Musu.
She was murdered at Cllr. Scott’s residence after the former Chief Justice reported to police authorities two separate incidents of alleged armed robbery attacks at her home in Brewerville.
The defendants are accused of using a sharp instrument believed to be a knife to stab the late Charloe Musu.
Charloe’s death in February this year shocked the country and heightened security fears.
Dozens of top lawyers, including impeached Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh are defending Cllr. Scott and her accused family members in the alleged murder case.
The defendants are undergoing a jury trial at the Criminal Court ‘A’ in Monrovia based on the charges.
During a jury trial, it is illegal for either of the parties to interact with jurors while there is an ongoing trial.
Cllr. Tuan’s illegal entry to the premises of the judiciary and attempt to interface with the jury could undermine the credibility of the prosecutors in the case.
His entry into the premises where the jury was being sequestrated also violates Section 22.8 of the Civil Procedure Law.
The provision states in part that all the regular jurors comprising a jury shall be kept together from the time it is sworn in and affirmed until it renders a verdict and is discharged.
It adds that no juror, either regular or alternate, shall communicate with any person other than the constable or bailiff sworn to attend to them.
On Monday, 18 September 2023, a communication titled “Night Entry Of The Temple Of Justice Premises” was sent to the Court Administrator and forwarded to Criminal Court A’.
It informed the court to conduct an investigation and take the appropriate legal action, when said investigation was conducted.
In the report, the Judiciary Security Officers stated that the Solicitor General Cllr. Nyanti Tuan had entered the Temple of Justice premises at 8:00pm.
It added that Tuan deliberated with the Police Officer assigned at the Jury Quarter, but did not interact or interfere with any of the
Cllr. Tuan has received several charges and fines for ethical breaches during court proceedings.
Reacting to the report, Cllr. Tuan told the Court that he visited the premises of the Temple of Justice on the date as stated in the Investigative Report along with some officers of the Liberia National Police. However, he said he his visit was around 5:30-6:00pm, and not 8:00pm.
According to the Solicitor General, he met with the Judiciary Security Services assigned at the gate and two of them escorted him to see his officers assigned at the Jury Quarter.
But he insisted that he did not interact or interfere with any of the jurors. According to him, his reason for coming and wanting to enter the Temple of Justice premises was to interact with his officers assigned at the Jury Quarter.
He said he did not interact neither nor did he interfere with any of the jurors.
“I met with the Judiciary Security Services assigned at the gate and two of them escorted me to see … [the] officers assigned at the Jury Quarter, but I did not interact or interfere with any of the Jurors,” said Tuan.
“My reasons for coming and wanting to enter the Temple of Justice premises is to interact with officers assigned at the Jury Quarter but did not interact neither did I interfere with any of the Jurors.”
According to him, he wanted to advise his officers for them to be vigilant and careful in their duty at the Jury Quarter.
He claimed that he did not want to experience the same situation that occurred with the 100 million dollars drugs case at Criminal Court ‘C’ wherein the government lost that case.
“I wanted to advise the officers for them to be vigilant and careful in their duty at the Jury Quarter because I did not want to experience the same situation that occurred with the 100 million dollars drugs case that was had in Criminal Court ‘C’ wherein the Government lost that case,” said Cllr. Tuan.