New Justice Minister Wants Term of Court, Grand Jury Sitting Extended

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Cllr. Dean said the decision to recuse himself was based on the fact that “I served as president and Chief Executive officer (CEO) of NOCAL between 2004 and January 2006.”

If confirmed, executive would propose legislation for amendments

In an effort to promote peace and security as well as to ensure justice by the conviction of more (amply) criminals through the rule of law, the new Justice Minister-designate, Cllr. Musa Dean has announced that the ministry, through the Executive Branch, would be submitting several legislations, when confirmed.

The Attorney General-designate has revealed that some of the legislations in which the Executive would be submitting for amendments would include the extension of the term of Court and the sitting of the Grand Jury.

Cllr. Dean told members of the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions on Monday, February 19, during his confirmation hearing, that the term of court, which is 42 days and multiply by four terms of court, which is totally 168 days, are too small to prosecute more criminal cases in each of the counties.

The lawyer of over 28 years’ practice believes that if the term of court has more days, the government could prosecute and convict more criminals, instead of 42 days per term of court.

“One hundred and sixty eight days for four terms of court against 365 days, are not enough to prosecute more cases. At least six months for a term of court would be enough,” Cllr. Dean said.

Dean further that the sitting for Grand Jury, which is 21 days, is also lesser days for the Grand Jury to render decisions or more cases to either convict or acquit alleged criminals.

Cllr. Dean is the lead counselor for the National Election Commission (NEC), and also managing partner of the Dean and Associates. He said when confirmed, he will write to the Legislature to increase the budgetary allotment for prosecution from US$250,000 to any satisfactory amount, “because under my leadership, there will be prosecutors for different kinds of crimes, including gender-based violence, robbery, sabotage, cyber, human trafficking, etc.

On the question of whether he can assure Liberians of always winning cases, Cllr. Dean said he can only assure Liberians of not carrying “losable cases” to courts.

Asked if the Minister of Justice should be a tenured position, the Justice Minister-designate, smiling, said the decision lies with the Legislature.

Meanwhile, Dean said when confirmed, he will tackle the overcrowding at the  Monrovia Central Prison, which currently houses 1,022 inmates instead of the normal number of between 300–350 inmates.

Cllr. Dean said the convicted ones will be transferred to Grand Gedeh, and those pre-trial detainees  in prison for minor offenses such like theft and traffic offenses will be processed.

However, during his cross-examination, the Chairman on the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claim and Petition, Grand Cape Mount Senator, Varney Sherman, recused himself for what he termed as “personal relations” with the nominee.

“He is my protégée, but during the electoral process, he and l were at court, so l don’t want to use this hearing to revenge on him, so I have to recuse myself,” Cllr. Sherman said.

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