The Criminal Court “D” Judge Yussif Kaba has awarded a new trial for 18 Liberians who were being tried on the charge of Mercenarism due to what he termed as the “integrity of the entire panel has been brought into question.”
Judge Kaba gave the ruling following arguments into a Bill of Information filed by the government lawyers that one of the empanelled sequestrated jurors was involved in lying to the court about his true identity while the respondent, Jeremy Neufville alias Jeremy Dweh in defense told the court that there is absolutely nothing changed about his identity instead the argument of prosecution was an attempt to silence him from exposing their deeds of bribing the jury.
The court said its decision to have the jury disbanded and order a new trial was out of ‘manifest necessity.’ The payment of per-diem for the jury was also suspended until investigation into the allegations is revealed while respondent Jeremy is given one month imprisonment without pay even when investigation is concluded.
In its seven-count Bill of Information, prosecution accused juror Jeremy Neufville of informing the court that his actual name is Jeremy Dweh; his father is Paul S. Dweh Neufville; his wife is Hawa Sonii Neufville while his kids were Prince and Carlos Neufville.
The State lawyers requested the court to conduct an investigation into the matter to establish the veracity of the information because their investigation proved that the respondent intentionally, criminally and maliciously gave false and misleading information about himself and his relatives as well.
Resisting the submission made by the informant counsels, the respondent told the court that the application made by the informants is clearly contentious because the presiding judge has warned both parties of engaging in unnecessary legal technicalities that are employed in regular criminal proceedings.
The respondent’s seven-count resistance said to leave the matter hanging would expose the Judiciary to all kinds of rumors, speculations and that under the Criminal Procedural Law, the right to waive evidence and request for judgment based on evidence already produced is exclusively preserved by the defendant and not the plaintiff as provided for under Section 20.10.
Respondent based its argument for which the court should squash the informants’ submission on the informants’ law cited which is Section 21.4 of the Criminal Procedural Law indicating that it is not applicable at this stage of the trial and that there is no exception under the law for any provision of the Criminal Procedural Law to be used in the place of instructive provision of the said law.
Meanwhile, respondent Jeremy admitted in court how he used the information he provided on the jury form to ensure his inclusion on the jury panel because the municipality that sent his name to Criminal Court “D” had already submitted his name to another court where he had gone earlier to fill in the form but was rejected.
He told the court how he appealed to the commissioner (name not mentioned) of his municipality to resend his name with the consent to have him misinform the court about his true identity.
The court said for a commissioner without regard to the law of the court to resend the name of a rejected potential juror is a serious implication of the judicial system and that act was the beginning of a systematic problem in the justice system.
The court based its observation on whether or not there is a legal admission by the respondent in these proceedings to warrant a finding on the Bill of Information in favor of the informant and whether the investigation should be continued inspite of an admission to establish the allegations by the respondent of jury tampering and or attempted jury tampering by the prosecution.
On the issue of misleading identity, Judge Kaba said it constitutes material misleading information for which juror Jeremy needs to answer while the issue of alleged jury tampering or attempted tampering, an information which if left unattended has the propensity of discrediting the integrity of the trial and should not be limited to the panel jury alone should the accusation be true.
He said such criminality shall be measured to the court’s bailiffs, the commissioner of the municipality who sent him as well as bailiffs of the Criminal Court “A” where his name emanated from since the Criminal Court “D” cannot assume jurisdiction over criminal matters that are not brought properly before the court.
He ordered that unless the investigation by competent authority vindicates the accused jurors with the provision that if the investigation is not held within the one month period of the ruling, the clerk is to issue out certificate of payment to all the other members of the panel.
However, the counsel for the respondent excepted to the ruling declaring it as ‘contempt’ against juror Jeremy thereby announcing an appeal to the Supreme Court sitting in its March term 2014. They referred to the allegation of jury tampering by the State in which they accused the court of not concluding investigation while one of the witnesses of the respondent was still in court.
The respondent counsel said it also excepts to the reversible ruling of the court since infact it has committed reversible error and gave notice to the court to also take advantage of the controlling statute. The case was adjourned with the court granting the appeal but noted that same does not relax the ruling of the court.