By Lincoln G. Peters
The Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has rejected President George Manneh Weah’s nomination of Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay on the Supreme Court bench without prior consultation with the lawyers’ umbrella organization.
In President Weah’s presence at the Supreme Court Tuesday, 27 September 2022, LNBA president Sylvester Rennie said the Bar was seriously displeased and disappointed over Gbeisay’s appointment without consulting the Bar.
“The recent nomination made by the president to the Supreme Court bench is not prudent …,” Cllr. Rennie claimed.
He contended that President Weah’s decision to nominate the judge without consulting the LNBA through its Judiciary Committee was totally against the Act that established the LNBA.
He explained that the Liberia National Bar Association was established by an Act of the Legislature in 1907.
Cllr. Rennie noted that the Bar crafted its bylaws and constitution to regulate its activities in promoting the rule of law, one of which he stated is to help maintain the independence of the judiciary.
The LNBA president noted that the organization, in the past, had worked with the judiciary to ensure that filling vacancies included the LNBA’s participation through a vetting process.
“This practice has been downplayed. We are no longer included in the vetting process,” he lamented.
On Wednesday, 7 September 2022, President Weah nominated Judge Gbeisay as an Associate Justice to serve on the Supreme Court bench.
His nomination came as former Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh got elevated to Chief Justice in the wake of the retirement of Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., as Chief Justice.
Rennie argued that the president’s action shows a lack of relationship between the Bar, the Supreme Court of Liberia, and the Executive branch of government.
Rennie made known the Bar’s position against Judge Gbeisay’s nomination during the retirement ceremony of Liberia’s former Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr.
Rennie said one of the key objectives of the LNBA is to help maintain the independence of the judiciary and to assist in the direction of those to be appointed as judges, among others.
He alleged that such practice has been downplayed and ignored by President Weah.
Rennie claimed that this does not show the concrete relationship between the Bar and the Supreme Court, and also well allegedly contravenes the Act that established the LNBA.
“We are aware of the constitutional right of the president to appoint [whomever] he feels is fit for the position, regardless of the LNBA’s recommendation,” said Cllr. Rennie.
“However, the involvement of the LNBA shows the concrete relationship between the Supreme Court and the Bar as the arm [of the Court],” he said.