Judge Willie Denies Cllr. Scott’s Request for Bail

TEMPLE OF JUSTICE, Monrovia – Liberia’s former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu-Scott, along with three other family members are expected to spend the next one month reprimanded at the Monrovia central prison until the August term of court, following the denial of the motion to bail them out.

The motion to bail was filed by defense lawyers in Criminal court “A”, after the former Chief Justice and three other family members were indicted on three counts to include murder, criminal conspiracy and giving false reports to law enforcement officials in the murder case of Charloe Musu; daughter of Cllr Scott.

In the motion filed, defense counsels argued that Cllr. Scott be placed on personal recognizance because she is a former chief Justice and a State woman relying on Chapter 21(h) of the 1986 Constitution and Chapter 13.1 of the Criminal procedure Law.

On Tuesday July 4, the resident Judge of criminal court, A Roosevelt Willie denied the motion, stating legal reasons. 

He said, the law doesn’t see status or position as was argued by defense lawyers and while it is true that all crimes should be billable unless the crimes charged is a capital offense for which the crime of murder is.

The crime murder, is a first-degree felony under the constitution of Liberia and is no bailable as per the law. And if found guilty, a person is sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Willie said, “All persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law,” according to Article 11(c) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, facts and circumstances, the motion to admit to bail is hereby denied and prosecution will be ordered to prove beyond all reasonable doubt to prove the guilty of the defendants.

After listening to the pros and cons from both sides, Judge Willie however asked few questions.

“Are these defendants entitled to bail? The answer is No. The principle argument is that indictment didn’t substantially charged the defendants or persons who committed the crime of murder. Therefore, proof is not evidence and presumption are great,” he noted 

The defense cited several laws for which they relied on and key amongst them is Article 21(d) (I) of the 1986 constitution which states that All accused persons shall be bailable upon their personal recognizance or by sufficient sureties, depending upon the gravity of the charge. But, unless charged for capital offenses or grave offenses which are denied by law.

The Criminal Court “A” judge also questioned whether the indictment charged the crime of murder and according to him, is in the affirmative because the indictment named those who allegedly committed the crime of murder.

He added that this proceeding is or arguing of motion is not place to prove who committed murder because the burden is on the prosecution to prove their case beyond every reasonable doubt.

“Why it is true that when indictment is presented to defendants that is proof is not evidence and presumption is great, all prosecution can do is to their case and therefore, the proper time will come for prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt on how those defendants committed murder.”

“If you are charged with grave offense, you are not entitled to bail” he said.

Thereafter, he denied the motion to admit to bail,

During the arguments one of defense lawyer Cllr. Amara Sheriff cited Article 21(b), Article 20 and 13 of the 1986 constitution of Liberia.

Cllr. Sheriff argued that the failure of state prosecutors to provide evidence is tantamount to conviction. Therefore, the former Chief Justice should be out in line with Article 21(h) of the 1986 constitution of Liberia which states, “A person shall be held to answer for a capital or infamous crime except in cases of impeachment, cases arising in the Armed Forces and petty offenses, unless upon indictment by Grand Jury; and in all such cases, the accused shall have the right to a speedy, public and impartial trial by a jury of the vicinity, unless such person shall, with appropriate understanding, expressly waive the right to a jury trial. In all criminal cases, the accused shall have the right to be represented by counsel of his choice, to confront witnesses against him and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor…

Anyone who mistakenly believed that Capital offense is not bailable, according to Cllr Sheriff they are reading the laws outside down. He said to every law, there is an exception.

The indictment came at a result of expatriate proceedings and co-defendant Gloria Scott being former Chief Justice, former Justice Minister, former Solicitor General and Senator amongst other positions held should be released on personal recognizance.

State prosecutors arguing its side of the motion also relied on Article 21(d)(I) of the 1986 constitution of Liberia and Chapter 13.1 of the Criminal procedure law. 

Arguing on behalf of state prosecutors, Cllr. Lafayette Gould Sr. quoted Article 11(c) of the Liberian Constitution which says, all persons are equal before the law. So, positions should not matter.

Cllr. Gould informed court that the positions of the former Chief Justice should not be the center of this because it’s the life of a young Liberian girl they are discussing.

“Judge Willie, chief Justice Sie-Nyene Yuoh and all others should be careful how they handle this case by doing the needful void of sentiments,” Gould warned.

Another state prosecutor Cllr. Bobby Livingstone said, “should the law crumble or be twisted in her favor because she is a former Chief Justice”? 

Cllr. Livingstone argued that the alleged murder case is not about who status is involved, rather a young Liberian girl who lost her life in cold blood and we, as lawyers should not base our argument on sentiments, but the laws. 

He prayed court to deny and dismiss movant motion to admit to bail and grant onto respondents any reliefs that may deem equitable.

In defending herself, former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott, dressed in her navy-blue correction attire, argued that prosecution has already convicted them without being found guilty. 

“This is why we are being treated as convicted Criminals. Find the murderer you have refused but you only want to prosecute us” she lamented.

Cllr. Scott indicated that state prosecutors are convinced that they committed murder without looking for the killer(s).

What standard has court set for writ of arrest and she quoted Article 21(e).

Quoting Article 21(e), Justice Scott added that writ of arrest is a powerful document because it takes away their constitutional rights, life, properties and other, but their writ of arrest didn’t detail anything about which shouldn’t be taken serious by the court.

Justice Scott revealed that indictment alone cannot restraint her liberty and the court should not be used to violate the constitutional rights of others.

She prayed court to grant her bail as she remains available to the public and her lawyers whenever the court needs her.

The former chief Justice of Liberia’s request was denied and she and three others including Rebecca Youdeh Wisner, Gertrude Newton and Alice Johnson will remain in prison until the opening of court in August. 

Meanwhile, defense lawyers, after the ruling announced that they will take an appeal to the Supreme Court as the judge is in error.

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