Liberia’s newly commissioned Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Her Honor 68-year-old Cllr. Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh, has promised to dispense justice without fear and favor.
Chief Justice Youh has also vowed to uphold the rule of law after President George Manneh Weah commissioned her on Thursday, September 29, at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.
President Weah formally appointed Justice Youh on Tuesday, 27 September following confirmation by the Liberian Senate.
She replaces former Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Sr., who retired also on Tuesday in fulfillment of constitutional age limitation of 70.
The third woman to ascend to the nation’s highest court, Chief Justice Youh will perhaps serve for the shortest period at the Supreme Court of Liberia, given her current age at 68.
However, the Executive Mansion quotes President Weah as saying he had no doubts about her ability to perform to expectations because she has the requisite experience, skills and qualifications.
President Weah expressed delight for being the Liberian leader to have appointed Cllr. Youh as the third female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 175-year history of the Republic of Liberia.
The Executive Mansion also quotes the President as saying Chief Justice Youh is the first female to ascend to this high office of leadership in the Second Branch of the Government since 2003, about 19 years ago.
“Your Honor, upon my nomination, you have been successfully vetted and confirmed by the Honorable Liberian Senate, following upon which you are now being commissioned by me as evidence of the full confidence and support of the other two branches of our tripartite governance structure”, President Weah noted.
The President reiterated that he harbored no doubt that the new Chief Justice has the requisite experience, skills, and qualifications to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, considering the more than four decades she has practiced in Liberia as a trial and transactional lawyer, and nine years as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court bench.
“It is important to note that, throughout your illustrious career in the practice of law and jurisprudence in Liberia,” Mr. Weah said, and continued, “you have earned a well-deserved reputation of unquestionable character and unimpeachable good judgment.”
Controversy has emerged about the retirement age for judges and members of the High Court, including the Chief Justice.
Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean has called for an amendment of the constitutional provision that requires the Chief Justice and Associate Justices to retire at age 70.
Cllr. Dean made the call Tuesday, 27 September 2022 at the retiring ceremony for Justice Korkpor, Sr., arguing that Justices on the United States Supreme Court bench serve until they die, resign, retire, or are impeached.
“As such, we hereby announce the need for a national dialogue to revisit the age clause in the Constitution,” Cllr. Dean said.
“Our legal system is patented after that of the United States. The justices of the United States Supreme Court serve until they die, resign, retire, or are impeached,” he added.
He said the retirement age for Chief Justice and Associate Justices in the country may not be realistic today, adding “We think they have more to do and a lot to offer because, at that age, they are wise in the law and loaded with experience. Therefore, the least age should be seventy-five,’’ the Attorney General recommended. Editing by Jonathan Browne