The lack of jurors has been a menace with regards to murder trials and other serious matters where their presence is so required in the High Court of Sierra Leone. Jurors normally help the Judges in arriving at the final conclusion in some matters, and therefore their role cannot be over emphasized in the High Court of Sierra Leone. Since the opening of the High Court session in September 2019, a lot of cases have been adjourned or stalled due to lack of jurors or inadequate jurors in a matter where they are needed. A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt or lack thereof in a crime. Amongst the issues, some of the jurors have been raising with regards to their absence has been the lack of transportation to come to Court. In some other occasions, after being questioned by the judges in charge, some tend to explain personal problems, such as sickness, death of family members or sometime missing the adjourned dates.
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Due to the persistent absence of some of those jurors, they tend to give so much pressure to the Court. Recently Justice Manuela Harding of the High Court of Sierra Leone on 3rd October 2019, ordered a bench warrant for the absent jurors in the murder trial of the former Chief of Defense Staff of Sierra Leone Lieutenant General Samuel O. Williams. Only five of the twelve jurors were present in Court during the hearing of the matter, which caused the Judge to adjourn the matter. A Judge can only sit in such a matter involving jurors, when there are at least ten jurors, and the prosecuting team will have to make the necessary applications for such ten jurors to be effective. Justice Komba Kamanda was also unable to proceed on Tuesday 8th September 2019, in a murder trial involving three accused Komba Musa, Tamba Mohamed and Komba Kamanda due to incomplete jurors. Again only seven jurors were in Court on that day, which forced the Judge to caution all of them to make themselves available on the next adjourned date.
By Mohamed J. Bah
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