The Liberian government says the retirement of Associate Justice Phillip A.Z. Banks from the Supreme Court Bench is something that will be a hard hit to the legal profession here, citing his numerous contributions to the profession during his service.
Speaking during Justice Banks’ retirement ceremony at the Supreme Court of Liberia Tuesday, 7 August, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., said “Professor Banks taught a lot of us at the law school,” saying it was difficult in sending him for retirement.
Justice Banks was retired Tuesday based on constitutional mandate in Article 72 (b) of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution requiring the retirement of the Chief Justice, Associate Justices and judges of subordinate courts of record at the age of 70.
Before the close of the ceremony, retired Justice Banks was escorted by the Marshall of the Supreme Court, the proxy of the Dean of the Supreme Court Bar Cllr. Darku Mulbah and the president of the Liberia National Bar Association Cllr. Moses Paegar into the Robing Room where his robe was removed, permanently vacating the Supreme Court Bench.
These formalities were witnessed by many invitees, including Sinoe County Sen. Cllr. Joseph Nagbe, one of the names being heard as President George Manneh Weah’s possible nominee to replace retired Justice Banks.
But that could also cause another Senatorial by – election in Sinoe just as it is expected in Montserrado after the election of Rep. Saah Joseph to the Senate while the Weah – led government continues to claim it faces financial challenges.
Justice Banks turned 70 in June, but Chief Justice Korkpor said Justice Banks was being required to continue in office to enable him perform his judicial responsibility assigned him by the Constitution prior to reaching his 70th birthday.
Finally conducting the retirement ceremony on Tuesday, Chief Justice Korkpor says former Justice Banks will go into other fields of life after being “permanently removed, disrobed as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”
Chief Justice Korkpor says retired Justice Banks had all the right chemistry for the Supreme Court Bench, saying he brought to the bench a wealth of experience having served for many years in the private as well as public service in key positions of trust.
He recalls that Justice Banks played a brotherly and elderly role on the bench, especially referencing his intervention during times of tensions in the Justices’ Robing Room where they deliberate issues to quiet the situation.
Justice Banks served as Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, member of the Interim Government of National Unity, two – times Minister of Justice, head of the Law Reform Commission, among others.
Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Darku Mulbah in proxy of Justice Minister and Dean of the Supreme Court Bar Cllr. Frank Musa Dean says Justice Banks’ retirement is something that will be a hard hit to the legal profession here.
“And so the retirement though is something that is going to be a hard hit for the legal profession in this country; how be it, it is also a delight to those of us who believe in the rule of law in this country,” Cllr. Mulbah says.
He sees Justice Banks’s retirement as “a lessons to us in this country” to try to do “our” utmost best in whatever task is given to perform.
Cllr. Mulbah says government wants to see Justice Banks being honored by all citizens for his work done to give people the courage to do their utmost best in whatever task is given them.
The Solicitor General vows on behalf of the Weah – led government that Justice Banks’ retirement will not send a wrong signal to others, saying government will do what is required under the law to ensure that his retirement will enable him to go longer in rendering more services to his people and country.
In addition to the Chief Justice’s statement, the rest of retired Justice Banks’ colleagues on the bench paid him tributes individually, acknowledging his contributions on the bench during his eight – year service as Associate Justice.
At the event, Nimba County Sen. Prince Y. Johnson congratulated Justice Banks for a job well done, reminding him of the wise words of in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, which says there is time and season for everything.“There was a time you came onboard, and you served so well. You rendered indelible service to your country,” Sen. Johnson tells Justice Banks.
He urges the departing Justice to continue to keep his hands in the hands of the Almighty God so that he can continue to live longer and serve his country.
By Winston W. Parley