Lawyers representing leading opposition politician of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, have filed last March 18, 2022 a formal complaint to Stipendiary Magistrate Jomah Jallah of the Monrovia City Court, against the State/Prosecution, led by Solicitor General Seymah Serenius Cephus for “Prosecutorial Misconduct,” the ANC announced in a press release at the weekend
The ANC claims that Mr. Cummings’s lawyers have discovered during cross-examination of All Liberian Party (ALP) National Chairman, Theodore Momo, that state prosecutors, aided by ALP’s Political Leader Benoni Urey, have criminally extracted several pieces of evidence, establishing the innocence of, and exonerating, Mr. Cummings and his codefendants, from WhatsApp messages exported from Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) National Advisory Committee (NAC) chatroom they presented to the court and Mr. Cummings lawyers as a part of discovery records submission.
The intentional omission of any piece of evidence that speaks to the innocence of the accused amounts to misconduct on the part of the prosecution. In all criminal matters, the State / Prosecution is duty bound or has a legal obligation to submit to the accused all the species of evidence the State has in its possession related to the allegations, and this includes evidence of inculpatory and exculpatory nature.
The state’s obligation is constitutional under the due process clause. In the famous case, Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the United States Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution has a constitutional duty of due process to disclose material evidence favorable to a defendant. Any attempt by the prosecution to intentionally omit any piece of evidence that is of an exculpatory nature or that seeks to exonerate the accused amounts to a material misconduct or ethical transgression.
Rule 7 of the Rules of Moral and Ethical Conduct governing the behavior of lawyers in Liberia, forbids lawyers from suppressing and secreting information and evidence capable of proving the innocence of a defendant. The ANC says, Cephus and team’s conduct is grossly unethical and criminally unprofessional.
Rule 7 states: “The primary duty of the lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the secreting of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and utterly unprofessional.”
The defense lawyers have therefore requested that Judge Jomah Jallah launches a full-scale investigation, and bring sanctions on Cllr. Cephus (and team) where appropriate. In addition, the defense lawyers have requested that the judge requires Cllr. Cephus and prosecution lawyer to formally submit the omitted pages from the CPP NAC chatroom, favorable to and capable of exonerating Mr. Cummings and codefendants, the ANC press release added.