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House to challenge Banks

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Lawyers representing the House of Representatives say they will provide an expert witness to give rebuttal to all the statements made by retired Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, III.who testified as expert witness for defendant Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh.

Justice Ja’neh is being tried at the Liberian Senate on the basis of accusations by lawmakers that he used his influence as Associate Justice to secure a ruling in his favor at the Supreme Court to take possession of a land being claimed by 94 – year – old Madam Annie Yancy Constance, among many other charges.

But he denies the charges.

His lone witness in the impeachment trial, retired Justice Banks bluntly told the hearing that the actions taken by the House of Representatives to carry on the impeachment without concurrence with the Senate, and by not respecting due process are unconstitutional.

Justice Banks said when the new Constitution was written in 1984 and came to use on January 6, 1986, impeachment proceedings was removed from political to legal, clarifying lawmakers’ claim that the impeachment is political.

The expert witness testified if what the House of Representatives did in the impeachment is illegal, any action taken by the Senate which serves as trial of facts can be challenged legally on constitutional grounds.

Retired Justice Banks said the Legislature comprises of two Houses, noting that the allegations contained in the Bill of Impeachment should be defined by both houses rather than a single house.He testified that if the House of Representatives wanted to impeach any official, the Senate should be aware.

The witness explained that because there was no rules to govern the impeachment process, the ad – hoc committee set by the House to investigate the matter did not issue out any writ of summon to Justice Ja’neh to have him appear for investigation.
According to the witness, there is no way to proceed with impeachment if there are no uniformed rules as directed by the Constitution.

The counsels for the House of Representatives requested Chief Justice and presiding officer Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. to dismiss expert witness Banks’ testimony.
The prosecuting lawyers say they want the expert witness’ testimony to be dismissed as if the testimony has never been given.

They claim that Justice Banks is not qualified to be an expert witness on grounds that he doesn’t hold a degree in constitutional law.

The lawyers contend that the fact that Justice Banks teaches constitutional law at the Law School doesn’t give him the right to give an expert opinion.

Further, they argued that Justice Banks has not written a book on the constitution before.

Cllr. Albert Sims, representing the House, says the expert witness should have given his expert opinion on what he was called upon to do and leave the rest with the trial of facts to make the decision and not for him to start making comments.

But the Chief Justice has rejected the application made by the lawyers representing the House of Representatives to dismiss retired Justice Banks’ testimony.

Chief Justice Kporkor insists that these arguments should be addressed to the Senators who trial of facts in the impeachment and have the final decision making power in the proceedings. He denies the motion.
By Ethel A. Tweh –Edited by Winston W. Parley

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