PIONEER AFRICAN WOMEN IN LAW
Gloria M. Musu-Scott
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia from 1997 until 2003
By Titilayo Arowolo
Counsellor Gloria M. Musu-Scott was born in Monrovia, Liberia to Madam Gertrude Pudiayenneh Newton and Late Colonel Lawrence A. Musu. She is a member of the Grebo people. Her father was from the Township of Warteken, Karluway District in Maryland County and her mother from Barrake, which is also in Maryland County. Scott is a widow and mother to her three biological children and also cares for other children in her family.
Scott received her elementary education at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Elementary School and a high school diploma from the College of West Africa (CWA) in 1973. While in high school, she took up a job as a bookstore clerk at CWA to pay the cost of her tuition. She had a thirst for education and the ambition to be excellent.
She entered the University of Liberia in 1975. She worked as an intern at the Ministry of Public Works while earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a minor in Management. After she graduated, she became a full time employee of the Ministry of Public Works in the position of Administrative Assistant in charge of managing logistics and supplies for the Road Maintenance Department of the Ministry of Public Works. In 1982, she entered Liberia’s Louis Arthur Grime’s School of Law. She continued working at the Ministry of Public Works and attended evening session lectures at the law school. She earned a Bachelor degree in Law in 1986. Upon graduation from the law school, she started her legal practice as a Prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice. She successfully obtained a guilty verdict in her first case to prosecute defendants who gang raped and murdered the late Esther Parker, a resident of the Stephen Tolbert Estate. She demonstrated her passion for women’s rights even from her first case. In 1990, she was removed from her position as a result of the civil war in Liberia.
Scott returned to the Ministry of Justice in 1991 as Assistant Minister of Justice for Administration. She was later appointed as Judge of the Monthly and Probate Court for Montserrado County by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, President of the Interim Government of National Unit (IGNOU) in the same year. She also became a Counsellor at law of the Supreme Court Bar in 1992, giving advice to lawyers about the case at hand. Additionally, she served as a lecturer at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in Liberia. She taught estate and trust, property, legal ethics, and insurance courses. During her tenure as Probate Court Judge, acting lecturer, and Counsellor at law, she grew passionate about the lives of widowed women and began to seek equality for women, children, and other vulnerable persons under the law. She invited other women lawyers in Liberia to a meeting and conveyed the need to seek equality under the law for women, children, and other vulnerable persons. Her colleagues supported her mission and the Association of Female Lawyers (AFELL) was organized with Scott elected as its first President in 1994.
On April 6, 1996, Scott was appointed Minister of Justice and later that same year became Chairman of the Ad Hoc Elections Commission. In 1997, she was named a member of the Independent Elections Commission which conducted the 1997 Liberian elections under the chairmanship of the late Hon. G. Henry Andrews. She served as the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Elections Commission amid the ongoing civil war.
Following the 1997 election of Charles Taylor as President of Liberia and with the restoration of the Constitution in 1997, Scott was appointed Chief Justice of the five member Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia. She served in that position until October 2003, when the transitional government took effect.
In 2005, she was elected Junior Senator of Maryland County in the 2005 Presidential and Legislative General Elections, a position she held until January, 2012. She represented the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, a Liberian political party.
She was later appointed Chairperson of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in August 2012. The Committee convened from 2013 until 2015. The CRC visited all 73 electoral districts and collected a total of 56,729 views from citizens. In this role, Scott continued to advocate for the political participation and education of girls and women. Scott presented the Committee's final report to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in August 2015.
Through the years, Scott continued to advocate for gender equity. She attended several international meetings and conferences and also served as a facilitator. Some conferences she attended include the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Round Table Dialogue for Advancing the Millennium Development Goals held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004; the African European Women Conference in Brussels in 2007; and the African Women Conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2007.
She also served as participant at the 2nd All Africa Clinical Legal Education Colloquium in 2005; the Conference on the Domestication of International Instruments relating to Women and Children sponsored by UNICEF held in Austria in 2000; the World Conference on Good Governance and the Rule of Law sponsored by the Economic Commission for Africa held in Addis Ababa, and the International Visitors Program sponsored by the United States Information Service in 1995; among several other conferences.
Scott continued her passion of educating young people throughout her career. She continued lecturing at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law from 1992-1996 as instructor; 2001-2004 as visiting instructor; and as an Adjunct Professor from 2012 to the present.
Counsellor Scott advocated tirelessly for human rights. She channeled energy into creating structures that benefit women. We admire Counsellor Scott as a pioneer woman for the work she did as a lawyer and in government to uphold justice for others.