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Lawyers fuss over juror

Defense and plaintiff lawyers in a US$3m law suit for damages at the Civil Law Court continued to be locked up in bitter argument over the intent of a juror allegedly visiting the office of a plaintiff’s lawyer, as police conduct criminal investigation into the allegation.

Atty. Arthur T. Johnson and his colleague Atty. Swahillo Sesay representing defendant Ecobank Liberia are threatening to produce evidence that Juror Elizabeth Belleh allegedly visited Cllr. Cooper Kruah’s office, the counsel for the plaintiff- Embassy Suits.

Earlier on Thursday, January 8, 2015, Cllr. Kruah told reporters at his Henry and Henry Law Firms on Benson Street that Juror Belleh did not come from his office when she got arrested while leaving Benson Street.

Cllr. Kruah had argued that lawyers needed to inform the court to investigate jury tempering if there was report of such, opposing the involvement of the police rather than the court.

But in a subsequent press conference held on Friday, January 9, 2015, Attys. Johnson and Sesay argued that the fact that Juror Belleh and the entire panel have been disbanded and they were not going into the case, the court lacked jurisdiction to investigate any issue related to a criminal offense.

As it stands, Atty. Johnson who spoke for his legal team said Juror Elizabeth Belleh is subject of criminal investigation being conducted by the Liberia National Police, following a formal complaint filed against her by the defense team.

Though he failed to say whether or not he included Cllr. Kruah in his complaint to the police, Atty. Johnson, however, told reporters that the police will talk to anyone who was part of the crime.

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He claimed to have caught Juror Belleh at Cllr. Kruah’s office and personally photographed her on January 6, 2015 during the night.

He says their interest is to make sure that Liberia’s judicial system will work in the way and manner in which the Liberian people will have confidence in the system.

He said by 5pm on January 6, they began keeping surveillance on Juror Belleh at Cllr. Kruah’s office following a tip off that she had gone to the Henry and Henry Law Firm where Cllr. Kruah is based, and that she was in Cllr. Kruah’s office.

“So we proceeded to the scene, from 5pm, I remained there until 7:43pm. [I went] in the car keeping surveillance to make sure and see who comes out of the law firm and who enters the law firm,” he said.

During this period, he said they were able to capture sufficient evidence to prove that Juror Belleh was from the Henry and Henry Law Firm, to confirm earlier information that they received.

He recalled that prior to the incident at Cllr. Kruah’s office, Juror Belleh was caught communicating with one of the plaintiff witnesses which led to her removal from the case, but with the opportunity to serve in subsequent case during the court term.

“She was disqualified not to serve in that particular case, but not disqualified to serve in subsequent case during this term, so she was still a juror,” Atty. Johnson said.

He said since the jury was not sequestrated, there was a reason to disband the entire jury.

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