The Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice has granted a motion for new trial filed by the lawyers representing former Police Inspector General Munah Sieh Brown and her alleged compliance against charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy.
Granting the motion for a new trial as a matter of law, the trial judge, Yussif Kaba, yesterday read a detailed history of the previous trial which ended without a verdict when the empanelled jury was disbanded minutes following the handing down of a unanimous verdict of ‘guilty’ and one month to the court’s own judgment for discarding one of the verdict forms.
Judge Kaba explained how the defendants had evoked Title 1 of the Liberia Code of Law Revised (LCLR) Section 22.1 on the Motion for Retrial and Sub-paragraph 1 which is the Power to Grant a Motion for Retrial with supporting grounds found in sub-paragraph 2 for which their appeal for a new trial should be granted by the court.
He named some of the powers to grant a new trial as jury’s evidence; whether the verdict was contrary to the weight of the judgment; the court misdirecting the jury on the law; new material evidences discovered and or produced and that defendants did not concede a fair and transparent trial.
The Criminal Court “C” judge said the movants filed an eight-count motion in which they stated that the jurors failed to take into account the variances of the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution, that the new trial is necessary because the action of the prosecution is tinted with grudge, malice and witch hunting and that the unanimous verdict of the jury runs contrary to the weight of the evidence adduced at the trial.
The motion also contains that the verdict be set aside because the jury failed to follow the judge’s charge of reaching a verdict that is applicable to the law and evidences adduced at the trial beyond reasonable doubts and that the jurors ignored a testimony in substance that the uniforms were delivered among other things.
Judge Kaba revealed that the respondents filed a 38-count resistant against the movants’ motion in which they categorically informed the court that the references produced were all speculated and not supported by evidence.
The respondents argued that the failure of the movants’ to be exact with the court’s records, the variances of evidences render suspicion.
However, the court said its concern was on two issues. Whether or not the verdict was contrary to the weight of evidences adduced and whether the jury failed to listen to the judge’s charge and to the matter of the charge, the court said indeed it was clear that the panel juror disregarded the judge’s charge.
He said it is left to the court to determine whether or not the evidences adduced were sufficient and pointed out that no member of any of the parties raised a qualm when additional verdict forms were requested by the jurors.
Judge Kaba said when the forms were returned, he noticed that one was discarded, so a committee was immediately established comprising of both sides along with the courtroom clerk to piece it back together.
“It was impossible to piece back together the destroyed verdict form but evidence proved that the discarded verdict form carried signatures of the jurors thereby making the application of the movant imperative,” he said.
He said but the discarding of a verdict form does not in itself form a sufficient basis for a new trial by itself and to that the court agrees with the respondent that to do that would be paying heed to mere speculations; adding that it has no basis in the Liberian jurisdiction to allow for a court to set aside a verdict.
Meanwhile, the court adjudged that the granting of the new trial is centered on the law because the empanelled jurors erred by failing to say on which count the verdict was drawn because the case at bar stems from the fact that uniforms and accessories were to be made available to the Liberia National Police, the Fire Service Bureau and the Emergency Respond Unit by the Ultimate Investment Corporation; C. Winnie Saywah writes.