By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Nyanti Tuan has told a special investigation that his unauthorized visit to the jury quarter was intended to caution states security officers assigned there to be vigilant.
He said he went there to caution the officers to be dutiful to avoid the reoccurrence of what happened in the US$100m drug burst case.
On 14 September 2023, the Judicial Security Service informed the court about the unauthorized and forceful visitation of Cllr. Tuan at the Jury Quarters on the grounds of the Temple Justice.
He is accused of interacting with the state security assigned there.
According to the Judicial Security Service, he visited the facility on 13 September 2023.
Based on the complaint, Judge Willie fined and suspended Cllr. Tuan for allegedly tempering with the jurors in the case involving Cllr. Gloria Musa-Scott and three of her family members who on trial for alleged murder.
Judge Willie fined the Solicitor General two hundred and fifty United States Dollars and denied him participation in the ongoing trial.
But the prosecution filed a writ of certiorari (asking a high court to order a lower court to send a case record up for review) against the judge to the Justice in Chambers.
The prosecution argued that Judge Willie did not have the legal authority to ban the Solicitor General from practicing, except the Supreme Court.
They also argued that the judge’s decision was harsh and he didn’t conduct any hearing. The prosecution then pleaded for a full scale investigation into the matter.
After listening to the parties, the Chamber Justice ordered that they return to status quo ante.
The justice didn’t issue the writ of certiorari as requested.
The chamber Justice however mandated Judge Willie to order a full-scale investigation in the unauthorized visitation of Solicitor General Cllr. Tuan and establish the fact and circumstances and report back.
Releasing the ruling on Wednesday, 4 October 2023 in the special hearing regarding the alleged jury tempering, Judge Willie said that during the investigation, Cllr. Tuan admitted that he went at the jury quarter and interacted with state security.
“Guys, be vigilant and dutiful because we don’t want what happened in the US$100 million drug burst where the government lost the case … to happen in this case,” Judge Willie quoted Cllr. Tuan as saying.
He said that all the nine witnessed while on the stand testified and confirmed that the Solicitor General entered the ground of the Temper of Justice forcefully and went at the jury quarter.
They noted that he interacted with state security assigned at the jury quarter and later left.
The investigation said that rebuttal witnesses testified that Cllr. Tuan visited the jury quarter but didn’t interact with the jurors.
They also said that Cllr. Tuan didn’t forcefully make his way to the jury quarter as claimed by the Judicial Security Service.
Judge Willie noted that they also disagreed with the Judicial Security Service that Cllr. Tuan came to the facility at 8:30 pm, adding that he came at the facility at 5-6 Pm.
Judge Willie said the Solicitor General didn’t temper with the jurors because Jury tampering is the crime of unduly attempting to influence the composition or decisions of a jury during the course of a trial.
Regarding the unauthorized visitation, Judge Willie noted that Cllr. Tuan breached the Standard Operation Procedure because his visitation to the jury quarter was not to the knowledge and consent of the court and the defense.
” Finally, in view of the above, this court has fined Cllr. Tuan two hundred fifty United States Dollars and he is suspended from participating in these trials and ensure that the money is paid,” he ruled.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has maintained that the judge lacks the legal authority to deprive anyone from practicing except the Supreme Court.