In Gloria Scott Trial: Court Subpoena Liberia Medical and Dental Council On Conflicting Death Certificates
Criminal Court ‘A’ has issued a writ of subpoena to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council. The court requested the presence of the council officials on October 26, 2023, to provide clarification on the processes involved in issuing conflicting death certificates.
The purpose of their appearance is to provide information on the processes involved in issuing a death certificate when the medical personnel involved are not medical doctors. The communication containing the subpoena will be issued by the court, and a representative from the council will appear on October 26, 2023, presiding Judge Roosevelt Willie said.
A subpoena is a legal notice that compels a person to appear in court as a witness or produce relevant documents related to a court case.
The subpoena was triggered after defense lawyers discovered flaws in Charloe’s death certificate—a situation that led to heated arguments at Criminal Court ‘A’ on Wednesday, October 25, between lawyers representing former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and the Ministry of Justice. The defense lawyers requested that the state expert witness, Dr. Guilavagui Mamady of Redemption Hospital, be disqualified.
According to the death certificate, it was Dr. Mamady who attended to the deceased when she was rushed to the Redemption Hospital on February 22, 2023. The certificate also quotes Dr. Mamady as saying, ‘I, Dr. Guilavagui Mamady, hereby certify that I have medically attended to the above deceased and that the particulars and the cause of death are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
The defense team, headed by Cllr. Amara Sheriff, however, argued that Dr. Mamady did not personally see the victim when she arrived at the hospital but rather signed the death certificate because it requires a medical doctor’s signature. The defense further contended that it is customary for the attending physician or medical doctor to sign the cause of death on the certificate.
They deemed Dr. Mamady’s certification misleading and requested it be denied. The defense also questioned the inclusion of a purported physician assistant as a witness, asserting that the prosecution should only present witnesses they had no prior knowledge of.
Earlier, state prosecutors had applied for a witness, a physician assistant who attended to Chaloe Musu when she was unconscious at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town.
One of the prosecution lawyers informed the court that the witness, the medical doctor who pronounced Chaloe Musu dead, is within the jurisdiction of the court. However, the witness indicated that the physician assistant who works under them saw the victim, and the medical doctor signed the death certificate, as it can only be signed by a qualified medical doctor.
The physician assistant is on their way to court to be qualified, sworn, and testify on behalf of the prosecution. Afterward, the medical doctor will take the stand to confirm the signature on the death certificate, the prosecution said.
That request was resisted by defense lawyers, who subsequently asked the court to deny it.
“The certification that he was the one that attended to the deceased is clearly intended to mislead the trial jurors and this Honorable Court; hence, the application should be denied,” the defense lawyers further argued. “Hence, the application should be denied and dismissed. And therefore, this doctor must be dispensed with for misleading the facts finders and the court, and he must be dispensed with as a matter of law.
According to them, it is a principle in medical practice that the medical doctor or physician who attended to a person observing the function of the brain, the heartbeat, will be the one to sign the cause of death of that person, and the doctor who did not attend to the deceased but issued a certificate that he attended to the deceased cannot be the one to testify before this Court.
“The certification that he was the one that attended to the deceased is clearly intended to mislead the trial jurors and this Honorable Court; hence, the application should be denied,” the defense lawyers further argued.
The Scott lawyers also argued that the purported attended physician who said to have attended to the deceased contrary to the records available to this Court cannot be the one to testify to the same since there are records to the contrary.
Additionally, they say the list of witnesses submitted to the Defense Team, including the purported physician assistant, whose name is not named in the prosecution’s application, must be denied, quashed, and refused.
“The law says that the only witness that will testify is the witness that the prosecution did not know nor have reason to have known and had reason to never have known up to the time of trial, which is that witness that will come and testify, not someone in their full knowledge to testify that they attend to the deceased,” they argued.
It was against this backdrop that presiding judge Willie reserved his ruling and ordered the appearance of the Liberia Medical and Dental Association/Council to provide clarification on the process of issuing death certificates when the attending personnel are not medical doctors.
The judge noted that authorities of the Liberia Medical and Dental Council will appear on Thursday, October 26, to testify in the case.