Friday, 11 February 2011

Defence Brief in Charles Taylor Trial

Final arguments began in the Charles Taylor trial on Tuesday. The principal defence counsel, Courtenay Griffiths QC, was a few weeks late submitting the defense brief, and the judges refused to accept it. He walked out of the Court in protest. He returned later in the week to face possible contempt proceedings. But the judges have also decided to suspend the hearings pending the appeal by Griffiths of their decision not to accept the defence brief.
I have difficulty understanding the logic at work here.
To my mind, the logical reason for refusing the defence brief would be that allowing it would further delay the trial. But now the trial is delayed anyway, pending the appeal. It might also make sense for a court to make such a ruling where there is a systematic problem of late filings and where an example needs to be made. But this is the last trial of the Special Court for Sierra Leone before it goes out of business.
The prosecution brief is already on the Court's website for all to read. I can't post an unredacted version of the whole defense brief because it contains confidential material. But I have obtained, for readers of the blog, the first portion of the defence brief - about 50 pages of it. I know that judges and their legal assistants occasionally look at this blog. Perhaps they can read the defence brief here, even if they don't officially admit it into the record. Surely they can only benefit, in their search for the truth, from consideration of the submissions of the defence.

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