Final arguments are due to be heard at the Liberian Senate in the ongoing impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh this Thursday, 28 March.
Liberia’s Chief Justice and presiding officer Francis S. Korkpor, Sr announced Wednesday, 27 March that lawyers representing the House of Representatives and defendant Justice Ja’neh will start arguments on Thursday since both sides have rested in to with the production of oral and documentary evidences.
When final arguments are concluded by both parties, Senators will be expected to vote whether or not, to impeach Justice Ja’neh, and this final action at the Senate is based on when the trial of facts will be scheduled to vote.
Justice Ja’neh is on trial following accusations by lawmakers that he blocked government access to a road fund, and using 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 other charges.
But he denies all the accusations.
The final arguments are scheduled to commence at 11AM this Thursday, when lawyers from both sides will be fighting to convince Senators to vote in ways that either approve or disapprove Justice Ja’neh’s removal from the Supreme Court Bench.
According to Chief Justice Korkpor, all instruments relied upon and testified to by witnesses have been submitted into evidences to form part of the trial proceedings.
The Chief Justice says Wednesday was not used to commence the arguments so as to allow lawyers on both sides to adequately prepare themselves.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice on Wednesday expressed frustration over senators’ delinquency in the impeachment hearing.
He says most of the time the senators are late and sometimes some of them do not attend the trial.
The Senators are serving as trial of facts in the case, and they will vote either to impeach or trash the impeachment against Justice Ja’neh.
Chief Justice Korkpor indicates that it is important that the Senators be present during hearings to listen to the testimony, arguments of lawyers and also listen to the facts in the case so that they can be able to make an informed decision.
“We will not be tight on the rules as we apply it at the Court when it comes to juries; we take them to be the honorable men that they are so they need to go by the rules,” Justice Korkpor notes.
Meanwhile the House of Representatives which submitted the Bill of Impeachment against Justice Ja’neh has withdrawn its notice of rebuttal against an expert witness’ testimony.
Following the testimony by Justice Ja’neh’s lone witness retired Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, the lawyers representing the House announced announced that they were to produce an expert witness to rebut all the testimonies of Justice Banks.
Justice Ja’neh’s 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.
Counsels for the House have contested the testimony, but they failed to convince Chief Justice Korkpor to dismiss Justice Banks’ testimonies.
By Ethel A. Tweh –Edited by Winston W. Parley