Judge Jallah Demands Cummings’ Presence In Criminal Proceeding Trial

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Judge Jomah Jallah of the Monrovia City Court has denied Cummings’ request for absence during the criminal proceeding trial between him and the All Liberian Party (ALP), and requested his presence throughout the legal process.

   Cummings is undergoing trial at the Monrovia City Court for his alleged involvement in forgery and criminal conspiracy in the altering of the framework agreement of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

   Cummings has since denied changing the signature of the ALP Chairman and Political Leader.

   During trial, the defendants’ lawyer requested the court to grant Cummings the right to exercise voluntary absence for the continuation of the proceedings based on Section 2.4 Subsection 2 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which grants the defendant the right to voluntary absence.

   Cllr. Abrahim Sillah, defending his client on Thursday, noted that the presence of Cummings at the court will obviously attract a huge presence of the public, which he said was an evidence by what transpired during a tension that left four officers injured, prior to the start of the case.

   “In order to advert the recurrence of these kinds of situations, which could sometimes be unavoidable, the defendants beg for leave of court while the matter proceeds in the manner and form required by section 2.4, subsection 2 of the Criminal Procedure Law,” Cllr. Sillah is quoted as saying.

   “The request is not intended to, in anyway, avoid the hearing of these proceedings and or to invade the guarantee provided by the Criminal Appearance Bond, but to ensure that the matter is speedily heard and disposed of without hindrance of what is required,” he added.

   But government prosecutors took exception to the defense argument, on ground that the objective and purpose of Section 2.4 of the Criminal Procedure Law instructs that a criminal defendant shall be present in court at every period of time of the case, unless there is a motion which clearly states why the defendant should not be present.

   Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, countering the defense motion, said there is no legal basis that warrants the defendant’s absence in the proceeding, thereby requesting the court to deny and dismiss the motion.

   According to Cllr. Cephus, the action of people invading the court and causing mayhem was premeditated either through a directive by defendant, and should not be used as a basis for the defendant’s absence during trial.

   “Either the defendant directed or instructed the unruly crowd to instigate such action, and it is on behalf of the defendant that the crowd acted; as such, the defendant shall remain present until the end of the matter,” Cllr. Cephus said.

Victims of mayhem at court

   Following argument from both parties, Monrovia City Court Presiding, Judge Jomah Jallah, said it will be a reversible error to grant the defendant brief absence when, in fact, the defendant has not pleaded to the writ as to whether or not he is guilty to the writ of arrest, thereby denying the motion made by the defendants.

   At the same time, Judge Jallah, on the other hand, granted prosecution’s request to include two other parties to the writ, ANC’s Chairman, Daniel Naatehn, and ANC’s Secretary General, Aloysius Toe, into the case.

   Quoting 14.7 of the Criminal Procedure Law, Title 2, Cllr. Cephus craved the court to ensure that all of those included in the writ be brought before the court on similar matter, in line with legal authority granting the state to amend in any stage of the proceeding.

   The defense counsel did not however take exception, thus providing a ground for Judge Jallah to grant prosecution’s request to amend, considering no objection to the motion, ordering the clerk to include both Toe and Naatehn as parties to the matter with immediate effect.

   Following that request, prosecution also prayed the court that the proceeding be televised so that Liberians in and outside the country are able to view the proceeding, due to its crucial nature.

   But defense counsel objected to the request on ground that there is no law or procedure in the Criminal Court of Liberia to prescribe the ways or means it can be televised.

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