By Lincoln G. Peters
Lawyers of Liberia’s Supreme Court bar are due to debate Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean’s nomination to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court bench today, 9 January 2024.
President Weah nominated Cllr. Dean for the top job, but the opposition Unity Party challenged a planned Senate confirmation hearing for Cllr. Dean.
The Court halted the planned Senate hearing pending the outcome of the matter brought before the nation’s highest court.
The Court is expected to entertain arguments from lawyers representing the Unity Party (UP) which won the 14 November presidential run-off, and lawyers representing the outgoing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government.
There are questions if there is any vacancy on the Supreme Court bench to warrant Cllr. Dean’s nomination by incumbent President George Manneh Weah.
Dean is supposed to replace ailing Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, but the latter’s request for an early retirement is being debated by those who say he has not served the required time to be granted this request.
Cllr. Dean’s nomination has stirred controversies across Liberia with less than a month for Mr. Weah’s administration to expire.
According to the Executive Mansion, President Weah granted Associate Justice Nagbe’s early retirement request, a move also criticized by some members of the public.
Associate Justice Nagbe was nominated by President Weah and confirmed by the Liberia Senate in August 2018, replacing retired Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks.
Through its National Chairman Rev. Luther Tarpeh, the National Secretary General, Amos Tweh, and all other officials, the Unity Party filed a petition for the writ of prohibition against the confirmation of Minister Dean.
Following the Unity Party’s petition, the court ordered the leadership of the Senate, Cllr. Dean and all those under his authority … to appear and file their returns and brief before the full bench of the court before 8 January 2024.
The court ordered them to show cause why UP’s petition should not be granted.
The court instructed the Senate to stay all further procedures or actions pending the determination of the matter.