By Lincoln G. Peters
Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie has reserved ruling into a petition filed to review Monrovia City Court Magistrate Jomah Jallah’s ruling surrounding prosecutors’ request for opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Alexander B. Cummings and two others to produce documents which are at the center of the ANC officials’ trial.
Mr. Cummings and his two party officials are in court based on a complaint filed by All Liberian Party (ALP) political leader Mr. Benoni Urey.
Mr. Urey claimed that Mr. Cummings and the ANC allegedly tampered with the framework agreement of the opposition bloc Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and illegally attached his (Cummings’) signature to a version that was not the original version approved by all CPP executives.
Prosecution had filed a motion before the magisterial court asking it to subpoena the documents from Mr. Cummings and his co-defendants. The defendants have unsuccessfully resisted the prosecution’s request at the magisterial court.
On appeal at the Criminal Court “A,” Judge Willie entertained an intense legal argument Monday, 7 February 2022 between both parties and reserved ruling.
During the argument, the defense lawyers were represented by Cllr. Abraham Sillah prayed the court to deny and dismiss the ruling by the Monrovia City Court Magistrate Jomah Jallah requesting the defendants to produce evidence against themselves.
The defense lawyer wants the judge to take judicial notice and investigate the actions of the magistrate in all the proceedings.
According to Cllr. Sillah, their argument is backed by Section 1.5, 9.4 and 8.12 of the New Judicial Law of Liberia.
He described Magistrate Jallah’s order for the defendants to produce evidence against themselves as something that is totally wrong.
The defense lawyer said the Constitution provides that the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the accuser, stating that it cannot be shifted on the defendant, citing Article 21 (h) of the 1986 Constitution.
Mr. Cummings’ lawyer maintained that if the prosecution through the private prosecutor, the All Liberian Party cannot produce what it said was a forgery, then it means that there is no matter before the court.
In a counter argument, prosecution lawyers headed by Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus said the framework document is not a personal property of Mr Cummings, saying the document is a public document and must therefore be provided to the court.
According to him, the defense lawyers did not mention that the document was not in existence when the matter was before the magistrate court.
Cllr. Cephus continued that the prosecution team is requesting only the original copy of the CPP framework document and not for the defendants to produce evidence against themselves.
Mr. Cummings was taken to court along with ANC Secretary General Aloysius Toe and Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Nathan on charges of alleged forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
Judge Willie has reserved ruling pending an assignment in the case which is expected Thursday, 10 February 2022.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/court-halts-proceedings-in-cummings-trial/