Do Not Convict Tyler, Sherman on Mere Hearsay


The Editor,

“Law”, the Roman jurist and statesman Cicero propounds, “is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite. The origin of justice is to be found in law, for law is its natural force; it is the mind and reason of the intelligent man, the standards by which justice and injustice are measured!”.

We do not know any of the accused in this case, nor any knows us! But we see injustice been carried out here to the extent of “people” are probably out of frustration under a corrupt regime or personal vendetta, crying out for resignation, impeachment, and conviction, even before the trial formally begins, failing to take into account the reality that the primary duty of prosecutors is not to convict, but to see that justice is done. That is:

Since  what could arguably be referred to as hearsay allegation (taking into account the failure of the accusers to provide adequate evidence) against one of Liberia´s finest lawyers (Cllr. Varney Sherman) and other senior public officials including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Alex Tyler, many have reacted as though the Global Witness´ Report is a decree or a dogma; and that ours is a criminal justice system or judicial process in which the standard of justice is “guilty until proved innocent.”

Accordingly, some, including a lawmaker (Acarous Gray), and the President of the Press Union of Liberia (Abdullah Kamara) called on those accused to resign or be impeached even when the accused have challenged the accusers to provide a single evidence, and the accusers have failed, and the matter has not actually reached the court!

As a matter of fact, most of those calling for the resignation and or impeachment of the accused, had the audacity to equate this case with those of Gyude Bryant, Acarous Gray, Strauss Khan, Tokpah Mulbah, and Richard Nixon, when those cases were or are fundamentally different from this case, besides the fact that unlike this GW case, in all of the above cases, the accusers provided evidence to their claims-something the accusers have since failed to provide a single solid evidence but only that which is in no way fundamentally different from “hearsay”!

And as if such glaring irregularities are not enough, some have even opined their dissatisfaction that the prosecutors would not meet their expectations to seek conviction of the accused, since according to them, the prosecutors including the Justice Minister are bosom friends and professional partners of Cllr. Varney Sherman.

Well, we like to let those calling for the resignation or impeachment or conviction, of those accused, that the primary responsibility of prosecutors is to seek justice and not to convict, and that resignation or impeachment based on hearsay is anathema to law and justice, for inter alia:

(1) It is a cornerstone of Anglo-Saxon justice(from which Liberian justice system emerges) that an accused is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

(2) That ours is an accusatorial and not an inquisitorial system – a system in which the State must establish guilt by evidence independently and freely secured and may not by coercion prove its charge against an accused out of his or her own mouth as the so called Special Task Force attempted on Speaker Tyler and Senator Sherman, but was of course, vehemently rejected.

(3) That, on the whole, while it is true, the layperson may quite naturally be quick to adjudge an accused guilty in his or her own mind and be sometimes joined by the press (as evident in the official position of the Press Union of Liberia via its President Abdullah Kamara), particularly in societies such as ours, and even elsewhere, ours must remain a civilized one where the time-honored principle that an accused person is presumed to be innocent until proved otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt by due process of law adherently remain the watchword in our interpretation of the law and the dispensation of justice. And:

(4) This is inter alia why it is absolutely unlawful and in fact immoral for anyone to preconceive conviction, resignation, or impeachment, against those accused, since,
(5) Both in fact, and in law, the primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is Not to convict, but to see that justice is done; hence:

(6) Impeachment or resignation based on what is fundamentally no different from hearsay is anathema to law and justice!

Dortu-Siboe Doe, Contributing Writer