How Did Judge James Zotaa Die?


After being reportedly denied a visa to enter the United States of America (USA) for further medical treatment, on Friday, January 31, the Supreme Court broke the news about the death of Judge James Zotaa.

He was said to have died in India, according to the High Court.

His remains will arrive back in the country shortly.

He was the Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.

The late Cllr. Zotaa served as a Judge throughout the length and breadth of Liberia. 

He was also a Judge whom many lawyers described as “fearless.”

He was the Judge who presided over the case involving three radio stations accused of spreading hate messages in the country during the 2011 General and Presidential elections. After hearing the case, he declared the stations not guilty of the charges levied against them by the government. 

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, on Monday, February 3, at the Temple of Justice,   the Clerk of Criminal Court ‘A’, Sam Manubu, explained that before Judge Zotaa’s death, he was denied an entry visa for medical treatment by the US government.

The reason, he said, was because the deceased failed to mention who made his referral for treatment in the US.

“Judge Zotaa wrote the US Embassy asking for a visa for further medical treatment; to his disbelief he was denied,” Manubu explained in tears.

According to them, he did not name any institution or individual that was referring him for the treatment.

Before that, the Criminal Court Clerk said, he was advised by medical doctors at the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County, to seek medical treatment in the US.

Apparently, these are some of the reasons that caused his death.

Judge Zotaa fell ill between 2012 and 2013, after several medical treatments he was flown to Ghana.

After he returned from Ghana, Manubu said Judge Zotaa wrote the Supreme Court seeking reassignment.

That request was accepted and he was assigned to his residential court (Criminal Court ‘A’).

Based on his improved health, the High Court assigned him to   Grand Gedeh County.

Unfortunately, his condition subsequently deteriorated and he was forced to abandon his assignment without completing the court term that year.

It was then he decided to go for medical treatment in India, following advice from doctors in Tappita. The details and circumstances of his death are unclear.

Judge Zotaa first served as a Resident Judge in Nimba County, in the 1990s, under the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government (NPRAG), under former President Charles G. Taylor.

He was later appointed as Foreign Minister by that government.

With his passion for the legal profession, Cllr. Zotaa moved to Monrovia. Between 2004 and 2005 he was appointed as Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice, the position he held until his death.  


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