A decision as to whether Judge Boima Kontoe’s judgment refusing to accept the request of suspended National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Matilda Parker is expected to be heard today.
Judge Kontoe, who currently presides over the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, denied Parker’s request that the government should produce the first witnesses that testified in the case before the trial was suspended on jury tampering allegations.
State lawyers contended that their witnesses, who testified during the first trial in 2015, want all documentary evidence to be used as part of the case against Parker and her comptroller at the time, Christina Paelay.
The lawyers also argued that those witnesses were out of the country, while others could not be found and, therefore, they do not intend to use any other witnesses in the new trial; while others have deliberately refused to accept their request to testify for the second time.
In their writ of certiorari, Parker’s lawyer Arthur Johnson said during the first trial, the prosecution never rested with the production of evidence in both documentaries.
“The trial was stopped because prosecution claimed jury tampering, and the entire jury was disbanded. If this is the case, how can the judge agree to use the records of the ‘alleged tampered jury’ to make a decision?” Cllr. Johnson said, wondering about Kontoe’s decision in the case.
“Even the judge during the trial was reprimanded by the Justice in Chambers at the Supreme Court for not adequately investigating the jury tampering case. Why would a new judge be willing to accept his notes to determine the ruling of the defendants?” Cllr. Johnson contended.
According to Parker’s lawyer, the law requires that the defendants face their accusers, “If this is a brand new trial without witnesses, then the defense will be denied their constitutional rights.”
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court earlier ordered a new trial after state lawyers contended over jury tampering allegation.
But Cllr. Johnson argued that when the case starts for the second time, it means that the defendants have to listen to the indictment again and restate their not guilty plea.
“In fact, they were required to relist their lawyers because the judge refused to accept the defense lawyers simply referring to the list of lawyers on file,” Parker’s lawyer’s complaint to the Supreme Court added.