The Supreme Court is due to hand-down an opinion in the legal battle over Associate Justice Jamesatta Wolokollie’s order disbanding the jury panel hearing the case of former National Port Authority (NPA) managing director Matilda Parker.
Parker is accused of duping the NPA of US$837,950 while serving at the entity’s helm.
The case was almost at its conclusion when prosecution filed a complaint to then Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Blamo Dixon, alleging jury tampering, accusing defendant Parker of being the mastermind.
It was based on that allegation that Judge Dixon decided to drop three of the 15 member jury from further hearing of the matter; a decision that annoyed the state lawyers to seek redress with the Justice Wolokollie, then presiding Chamber Justice, who subsequently disbanded the entire panel.
The court has not set any date for the ruling, but reached the conclusion after state lawyers sought to prosecute defendant Parker and her Comptroller Christiana Kpabar Paelay.
On Monday, the lawyers found it very difficult to persuade the justices about their failure to file a brief (synopsis of their argument) in time, causing a delay in hearing the merits of the complaint against Justice Wolokollie.
Although the brief was filed late Monday evening, the justices resolved not to entertain any further arguments, but to rather to make a determination into the matter.
Justice Wolokollie’s decision to disband the jury triggered a serious argument by the defense team that later filed a complaint to the Supreme Court to review her action.
A legal expert hinted the Daily Observer that “it would be very difficult for the Supreme Court to reinstate the disbanded jurors, because there is a reasonable possibility that the outcome of their opinion would be a new trial.”
“The court knows that the jurors were sequestrated, meaning they were kept together at the basement of the Temple of Justice. Do you think the justices will allow them to continue with this matter? That cannot happen, because the only solution to the case is to open a new trial,” the expert added.
Early 2016, Judge Dixon, while handling an allegation of tampering brought on by the prosecution, refused to disband the sequestrated jury but chose to only drop three of the 15 members of the panel.
Despite the prosecution’s contention for him to disband the entire panel, because they were reportedly behind the suspected plot to collect money from Parker to influence the outcome of the trial, Judge Dixon only managed to drop three of the jurors. Based on the judge’s action, prosecution complained to Justice Wolokollie, who acted by disbanding the entire panel.
Parker and Paelay were indicted with the commission of the crimes economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy.
The indictment alleged that between July 2011 and December 2012, codefendants Parker and Christina Kpabar Paelay, then Managing Director and Comptroller of the NPA respectively, colluded with codefendants Deneah M. Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise, to defraud the NPA of the total amount of US$837,950.
The indictment also noted that they defrauded the NPA by designing a criminal scheme whereby codefendants Parker and Paelay awarded two source contracts without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) to Deneah M. Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise. The contracts awarded by the NPA were for the removal of wrecks from the Port of Greenville, and the provision of security consultancy at the Ports of Monrovia, Buchanan, and Greenville, valued at US$500,000 and US$300,000 respectively. The defendants have denied the claims.