International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Defense Lawyers To Appeal Decision To Reject Final Trial Brief

Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor will now have the chance to appeal the Trial Chamber’s decision to reject their final trial brief. The defense appeal will be lodged before a panel of five judges of the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The decision to allow defense lawyers to file an appeal came after their final trial brief was rejected by Trial Chamber judges because it was filed outside the specified time ordered by the judges.

On Monday, February 7, just one day before prosecution and defense lawyers were to make their final closing arguments, the Trial Chamber judges issued a decision in which they rejected the defense final trial brief because it had been filed 20 days after the January 14 deadline required for the submission of final briefs by all parties. Defense lawyers said they were awaiting decisions in about eight outstanding motions that were before the judges.

When the court convened this week to hear closing arguments from the parties, Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel stormed out of the courtroom, telling the judges that he was not prepared to take part in the proceedings because the defense final brief had been rejected. Mr. Taylor also stayed away from the proceedings. Before the close of business day on Tuesday, February 8, defense lawyers filed a motion seeking leave to appeal the decision of the Trial Chamber.

By a majority this morning (Justice Richard Lussick dissenting), the Trial Chamber judges granted leave to the defense to file an appeal against the Trial Chambers original decision to reject their final brief. This opens the way for defense lawyers to take the matter to a panel of five Appeals Chamber judges, who will determine whether to uphold or overturn the Trial Chamber’s decision.

Also to be dealt with in court today was a directive from the judges to Mr. Taylor’s defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths to appear and make an apology for his conduct of walking out of court on Tuesday. In their order, the judges warned Mr. Griffith’s that his failure to appear and apologize in court would cause them to issue sanctions against him in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

When court convened this morning, Mr. Griffiths was present along with his co-counsel Terry Munyard. Mr. Munyard spoke entirely on behalf of the defense while Mr. Griffiths sat quietly. In his submission, Mr. Munyard told the judges that the order directed to Mr. Griffiths was a very serious matter dealing with the conduct of counsel and the threat of a possible sanction. There was therefore a need to have a special hearing at which Mr. Griffiths would be represented by an experienced counsel before the judges, Mr. Munyard explained.

Mr. Munyard argued that it was not proper for a member of the defense team to represent Mr. Griffiths. Therefore, the defense would need more time to contact an experienced counsel who does not work for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He asked that the defense be given two weeks to make this search and prepare for the special hearing.

Despite opposition from the prosecution, the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, Teresa Doherty, ruled that it was within Mr. Griffith’s rights to be heard on the matter. She therefore granted the defense request and tentatively set a special hearing date for February 25, 2011.

The special disciplinary hearing, however, will be completely separate and will not in any way interfere with the normal running of proceedings in Mr. Taylor’s trial.

Mr. Taylor’s trial is adjourned indefinitely until the Appeals Chamber delivers its verdict.

43 Comments
  1. Breaking News from the Hague

    Charles Taylor war crimes trial extended in The Hague
    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor in court on 8 February 2011 Charles Taylor is accused of selling “blood diamonds” from Sierra Leone

    The war crimes trial of Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor has been extended after judges said they would decide on a defense appeal.

    Friday was due to be the last day of the trial, which began in 2007.

    The BBC’s Peter Biles in The Hague says after that appeal has been heard – perhaps within the next two weeks – the defense will still need to discuss whether it will be allowed to present closing oral arguments.

    The separate issue over the apology demanded by the judges from Mr Griffiths is potentially a disciplinary matter and has been deferred until 25 February, he says.

  2. Courtenay!!

  3. Justice Richard Lussick dissenting, I see why after that nonsense he was talking.

  4. The reasoning of this piece I am not sure accurately reflects all that transpired in the trial chamber today. The matter before the judges today was on two fronts. One was the issue regarding Mr Griffiths alleged disrespect for the court and the other being the way foward for the trial i.e. the pending matter of the final brief. The issue of Mr Griffiths apologizing to the chamber was handled by Mr Munyard who stated categorically that Mr Griffiths could not be railroaded into apologizing without stating his own side of the story. It is then after this was dealt with that the leave to transfer pending matters to the appeals chamber.
    P.S: Mr Sesay, the right word is DEFENCE and not DEFENSE. Stay true to yourself.

    • rgk007

      I would suggest that you use google first before you correct “defence”. Both “defense and defence” are correct depending from which learning system you are nurtured. Defence, is from the British system (which Alpha is from since SL was colonized by the British) and defense, is the American way (since we are mirrored after the USA).

      Use google

      On the trial, I think you summed thing up properly…I think the appeal process should have been considered first rather than letting emotions dictate his (Griffiths) actions.

      Thanks for the summary

      • Pardon me Sir but I don’t require google’s assistance to spell. If you read CLEARLY you would notice that I asked Alpha to spell the way he’s used to – being the British way as you have also agreed to – and not write in a manner simply because this is an American based sponsored site. Lastly, point of correction, WE are not all mirroring America as I am not one and not dependent on them. I am a proud Nigerian.

      • Bnker,

        If you were able to read my last post to you, I cautioned that we waited to see the reaction of the judges. Granted that they have given leave for Mr. Taylor lawyers to engage the appeal process, I believe it is a way of the judges themselves recognizing the deference of due process. Other jurist will now review the actions of the trial chambers to determine if they err in law.

        So brother, let us wait and see. Opining that Grifffiths allow emotions to control him is of no consequence at the moment. In my view Griffiths was seeking to ascertain if the court was infiltrated while a serious case was in progress. Maybe after all the case is only serious to a few and not even to the judges, just maybe.

        • Thanks Andrew….I will adhere to your advise and not render a verdict or premature verdict any longer!

    • Pardon me Mr moderator. I read my comments and it seemed as if it might come across as rude to your person. This is never intended. I just find it upsetting when I sense people taking a certain leaning just to please their establishment – paymaster if bluntly put . I might just be biased against American english ( I am ) and probably found it irritating for one from a Queen’s english speaking country to toe this line simply because this is a largely American funded initiative. My advice to stay true to yourself was borne out of this and not intended to offend.
      Before rounding off, can Tracy or whoever gives responses inform us as to wether the online proceeding have a time delay or are we watching it live .

      • Dear rgk007,

        The proceedings are on a half-hour time delay for those who are watching it through the internet. This is to ensure confidential information is not revealed to the public during the course of the trial.

        Kind regards,

        Taegin

  5. Fellow compatriots, let us carefully analyze these proceedings while we divorce ourselves from individual emotions. The trial judges seemed to be in diagreement at this point of the trial after doing all the work together. This is not healthy for the international justice system. We the people of africa/the world need to lookout for the few who wants to remote control the world.
    On the flip side of the coin, liberians need to follow the Egyptian situation while they consider support of the TRC report. Hope the appeal chamber can uphold the International credibility for this court.

  6. info from wikileak on Taylor’s money. Is Taylor so big for the world? I believe not so, but the lies have been told by the west so they are finding all means to trap him.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/8319158/WikiLeaks-Charles-Taylor-may-have-400-million-out-of-reach.html

    • Re-The Telegraph Report;
      Christopher Hopless the prick from london wrote US officials were told that if Mr Taylor is found guilty of war crimes, the international court in The Hague might only be able to recover a fraction of his wealth………what is this idiot talking about,surely the prosecution claims it billions,we’ve so far not seen any evidence of the 400 million he seems to be talking about.

      These fantacist in the west and their malingering fools in Africa have always conspire to wreck this world,,,and as the history shows the fools in africa always suffer…whether the conspiracy is successful or failed

      • Cee, because the billions cannot be found does not necessary mean the money was not stolen from the Liberian Government coffers! Nobody ever recovered Doe’s millions nor Tubman’s millions as alleged by most poeple of Liberia, but that does not mean these guys never banked money oversea. Besides, Cee, why would you want to bank your money out of your country if it were a legitimate money? Have you heard of US leaders banking their money in Africa, or in the Swiss Bank? Common sense tells you that to bank money outside your own country is not only silly, but having something to hide; that is, you either stole that money, or you are not a rightful owner! Therefore, taylor was not dumb to save money in his own name outside of Liberia, knowing who he was , neither will anyone buy all that garbage from support group about the dumb stupid question about “show me the billions” street talks!

  7. Bravo! Bravo! to the defense team of Mr. Charles Taylor. Now Mr. Richard Lussick and Teresa Doherty know that your profession is respected by you not them who are seeking material prosperity from the west. Let justice be done to him who it’s due. We are all equal under the law, so let justice done to all. Allged does not mean quity.

  8. One thing I totally agree with Judge Lussick dissenting opinion was:

    20. The responsibility of the judges to decide on the evidence whether the Prosecution has
    discharged its burden is in no way diminished by the fact that the accused has not filed a final trial
    brief. Moreover, an y error by the judges in discharging this responsibility can be corrected on appeal.

  9. My man Aki,

    I think this trial is 99.99999999% base on skin color. Alright, bloggers maybe emotional and believe this fiasco trial is about skin color. On the flipside, if you have one of the sitting Justices (Sabutinde) alluding to the fact and bluntly calling members of the prosecution bunch of “Racists”, how can anyone think that this trial is not about skin color.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, what is it?

    • Big B – Does the skin color of the victims also matter? Or you just overlook that little detail and would rather there be no international justice mechanism available to them? Such a joke.

      • Bendu,

        My heart goes out to the victims. Unfortunately, they have the wrong guy. I think President Taylor is where he is, because he was defiant to the west. He stood up to the west. President Taylor refused to be a postal boy. He forgot the new world order. Might mean Right!

        Long story short, let justice prevail. If the evidence is there, convict. If the evidence is not there, acquit. We don’t want any quasi justice.

        • Thou shall not pretend to be sorry for what happened to the victims of charles taylor trial because according to you he never did anything and therefore is innocent. Remember you are on record here and if you do not continue to hide behind Big B, your personality will get exposed, and sooner or later, we may discover that Big B, in fact, is Charles Taylor from the Hague! Also, I hate to see a character change because you want us to buy your nonesense posted on this site all along. Therefore, for anyone, who had focused more and entirely on taylor’s right to come out in the end to feel sorry, or express sorrow for victims, is not only demeaning, but devilish and rediculous!

        • fallah,

          For real, you had me laughing so hard until tears ran down my cheeks. I almost pu-pu and pee-pee on myself. You made my day!

          Excuse me a minute, got to go to the bathroom, have to do a Number 1 and 2. Lol.

        • He admitted to working with the CIA in his testimony? He didnt “stand up to the west.” Dont overestimate the importance of Sierra Leone and Liberia to the western powers. In all sadness, the US and the EU frankly didnt care about west africa for most of this conflict. There wasn’t some grand conspiracy….there was neglect. Eventually the political presure built up to finally do something (after the UN peacekeeprs were abducted) but dont kid yourself….the west was not terribly interested how many sierra Leoneans and Liberians were killed or maimed….as Freetown burnd the world debated over Kosovo but there wasnt the remotest support for a similar intervention in Sierra Leone.

  10. This trial is taking too much time and money! Lot of resources are going to waste. Justly speaking, Charles Taylor cannot be convicted or should not be held responsible for what have happened in Sierra Leon. Did he take part in the conflict in Sierra Leon and other neighboring countries, yes! without doubt. But so did Lauren Gbagbo and numerous other presidents. The court doesn’t have enough evidence to convict Mr. Taylor. Based on the court of law, Taylor has proven beyond responsible doubt that he is innocent

    • Bundu,

      where in the transcription President Taylor ever admitted working for the CIA? Stop lying. Please stop misrepresenting the facts. It is the same old lie that Brenda Hollis told. Seriously, when will you guys have some seizure of conscience? JE-SUS CH-RIST. You know what, just point to the portion of Mr. Taylor testimony in the transcript, that says, he said, he was working for the CIA.

      • I said “with”. And it happened twice….once when he said he was tipped off about Sorious Samora and the camera that would kill him and the other when he was NPFL leader and was in radio communication and being given info from CIA station. You really dont remember that and want to force me to dig up transcripts. I will if you are going to be tat stubborn. But as a starting point I said “with”…not “for” and so you misrepresented my post. Forgetting the overwhelming evidence against him….what is the most funny is when the NPFL peanut gallary tries to portray Taylor as some hero…I mean give me a break. I think anyone would agree that forgetting the case for a moment he was an absolutely terrible president and this “pan-African” clothing was only recently put on. The last refuge of those avoiding to face reality is the “grand conspiracy” …. just watch Glenn Beck and you will see how much he sounds like Taylor.

        • Bundu,

          Please point to the transcript where President Taylor said he was working “with” the CIA. It is not that hard. When you do that, than, we will discuss the nitty-gritty of your assertion. Let me say this; I know Mr. Taylor emphatically denied working for the CIA when asked. Since you want to play the English game with the propositional phrase that begins with “with” or “for”, bring it on. Show me where Taylor said he worked “with” the CIA in the transcript during his testimony.

  11. Well, the appeals chamber now has an opportunity to wade into this faceoff between some judges and the defence. this situation is unfortunate, totally unwaranted and completely avoidable had the majority of the judges taken a more objective stance about the defence applications. Justice Lussick has obviously made this a personal matter instead of making decisions in the interests of justice.

    Although Justice Lussick claimed in his dissenting opinion that the rules of the court did not make it mandatory for the defence to file a final brief or make a closing argument. While his reference to the rules is true, the interests of justice dictates that the defence be allowed to file a brief since it has indicated its willingness to do so in a case as complex as this one. The defence has also stated time-without-number that it had not wilfully disobeyed any order of the court, it has consistently gave its reason for its inability to file its brief on time which explanation is not good enough in justice Lussick’s view.

    The decision by the majority to allow for the appeal by the defence of the decision to reject the final brief is a step in the right direction. The appeals chamber now has an opportunity to put this trial back on track and remind everybody of the main issue at stake in this trial which is JUSTICE for Mr Taylor and JUSTICE for the victims of the horribleo crimes committed in SL.

    • 2-14-2011
      @ Sam
      The SCSL only primary responsibility is to effect a fair and impartial trial for TC. Justice for the victims is not the court’s responsibilty. However, the main issue has been disguised as justice for the victims of SL. If it is justice that is sought, then round them all up starting with those who actually profited from the “blood diamonds”.
      p/b

    • Judge Lussick is a nutter.he has put his cave man hats on,….anything that looks different is going to get clobber!!!!

  12. We were there in Liberia during and after Charles Taylor, working with the orphans, the crippled, the mamed, the blind all a result of Charles Taylors greed and corruption. Where do the criminal charges from Liberia stand. What about all his associates who recurited the young soldiers, supplied them with drugs and weapons. Scapped all the steel guard rails, street signs, lamppoles. They robbed and ravaged this once proud and great country. Many were complicit. The locals there know the names involved. Bring them to their day in court. Don’t stop with Charles, his son and his wife who sold the donated aid from other countries. What a sad disaster. Go see the parapeligics watching the one legged soccer teams at the stadium. Go listen to the first hand stories of people being hacked up with machetes paid for by Charles Taylor and his animals. His worst sentence of guilt will be a country club compared to the future of the many he ruined. Put him in a cell for life and loop the video of people dragging themselves around in the streets with no legs. Pitiful, Pitiful, Pitiful !

    • Marmaduke,

      This trial is not about Liberia. It is about Sierra Leone. If you have problem with President Taylor in Liberia, ask Ellen to implement the TRC Report and at the same time, work assiduously for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia. If Ellen does that, you don’t have to worry about this fake case. Taylor may be found guilty in Liberia, because of direct criminal liability responsibility and leader- subordinate liability role. But you few Liberians that are using this back door means of getting at this innocent man in the name of Sierra Leone, while at the same time, protecting and defending others like Ellen, Samukai, Prince Johnson, Damintee Conneh, Thomas Yaya Nimely, Butt Naked, Sawyer, Fahnbulla, Alihaji Kromah, and whole host of them don’t really mean well for Liberia.

    • Marmaduke,
      Yes it’s “Pitiful, Pitiful, Pitiful !” but this trial is about Sierra Leone.

  13. CONSPIRACY OR NO CONSPIRACY, THE TRIAL MUST MEET INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED STANDARD AS IT BEGAN AND JUSTICE SHOULD PREVAIL.

  14. All this confusion about denial of final brief and appeal; the two judges knew exactly what they were doing. The judges’ action was not to teach Taylor or his defense team a lesson, but rather to buy time so that one of the two can preside at the time of the judgment. Don’t forget one of the leaked cables.

    “[Sources] speculate that Justice [Julia] Sebutinde may have a timing agenda,” one senior US diplomat states. “They think she, as the only African judge, wants to hold the gavel as presiding judge when the trial announces the Taylor judgment.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/17/wikileaks-charles-taylor-trial).

    Will this turn into a battle of who will preside at judgment? Let us wait and see.

  15. Who presides at jugement does not really matter. This court operates on majority decision so even if the presiding judge offers a guilty verdict but the other two judges offer an acquital, the acquital stands until overturned on appeal and vice versal.

  16. This is a message to the taylor-led group: We the Liberians all over the World, welcome any Liberian to become president in Liberia except a Liberian who is well known for killing Liberians, looting others properties, burrying pregnate women alive, opening mercernary training camps in Liberia, carrying wars in neighboring countries, smooking pile of opions on daily basis, denying his own signature (Insincere) and you name it. We are adhering to these principles because Liberia is a number one Christian country in Africa and as such, we are not in position to be paying debts on others because Christ never did it. Those who support evils are themselves evil. Liberians should by now learn a lesson from Samuel K. Doe time, when so many innocence people lost their lives and others’ properties were looted, then came another devil charles taylor who killed Liberians ten times Doe and extended it to neighboring countries. So johnson, your planned evil on the 14th of April 2011 is in the hand of Al-Mighty God. Looting and killing is not going to be allowed in Liberia any more.

  17. Today, I JTF, after posting series of comments in Charles Taylor’s trial and studing the effect of this Web-site on Liberia have come out with the following understandings: 1. Seventy-five percent of those who posting comments in favor of Charles Taylor are rebels from various West African countries who were fighting along with Charles Taylor. 2. Seventy-five percent of us posting comments against Charles Taylor are those affected in our neighboring countries and other Godly minded people in different parts of the World. 3. Liberians are suffering all over the World with special reference to the United States of America where Liberians ran in thousands because America is the Founding Father of Liberia. They are suffering because they are refused citizenship after having children and grand-children including properties. Liberians cannot return home because Investors are not interested in investing in Liberia after reading the comments from pro-taylor writers who are altogether former rebels. For example the planned Mass Demostration by pro-taylor group for the 14th of April 2011. Who then will be an Investor that will invest in such a country.
    4. It is really clearly well understood by even yesterday born child that Charles Taylor (Our Son) partispated largely in Sierra Leone Rebel War as well as in Guinea yet, the result must be dicided within one year. Who then will be a Liberian that is living out of Liberia will return to Liberia? It is clearly understood that Charles Taylor came with Foday Sankor from Libya and Sankor was the Rebel Commander in Bong Mines area where we all saw him, talk with him and told us that, later they will go to Sierra Leone, and Guinea. 5. This Web-site created problem for Liberia because who so ever is a Liberian out of Liberia now, or an Investor who wants to invest in Liberia now, after reading the comments from these pro-taylor writers will never return neither, the Investor will invest in Liberia at this time. This is what got Liberia suffering today. Almost all
    villages are empty and everyone is in Monrovia due to fare of pro-taylor writters.
    6. According to some of us findings, those from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, who where totally hurt by these rebels through Charles Taylor’s support, are never sleeping but, preparing to wage war on Liberia soon Taylor returns to Liberia. They have seen these Charles Taylor supporters building spacious houses from looting their properties after killing their parents. This man supported by we the Liberians because of what the previous Government led by the late President, Samuel K. Doe did in Liberia let us down. None of us was expecting this man to do what he did in the Sub-region. At any rate most of us knew this man behavior from his childhood but we are not Politicians and the same Politicians refused to listen to us. Right now, believe it or not if these rebels were not given the Web-site to write all types of nonsense in favor of Charles Taylor’s return to Liberia, people were going to return to their villages, investors were going to invest in Liberia and others who planning revege were not going to be in that position. Thanks for your understanding of this posting.

  18. Jose, in the first place, there is no Liberian I want to believe bear this name, Jose Rodriguey. You people are pile of rebels who ran in America. You are not well informed. Concentrate on your studies in the U. S. so that you can become president in Liberia in the near future. Naming these people Ellen, who is your Music, Prince Johnson, Sawyer, Alhaji Kromah, and all others is altother from lack of understanding. If I give you Gun today or matches to go and shoot down your parents or burn down your house and you went and did it, who is going to bear the heaviest responsibility? With Butt Naked, he did it and came out openly and admitted before us all. With you people and your president, denied doing anything bad in the sub-region even though you people were seen loaded in trucks running to Sierra Leone and Guinea on daily basis. Since you cannot understand this issue, it is time you put down your pen and go on learning.

  19. My two comments on April 16th are still awaiting moderation. Time factor

    • Dear JTF,

      One comment has been approved. The other comment (posted at 2:28) has not been posted because it does not comply with policy for comments. Please refrain from accusing others of crimes that they have not been convicted of.

      Thank you.