Liberia’s Supreme Court is expected to make a crucial decision today, Friday, 30 November in Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh’s petition for a writ of prohibition against his impeachment by the Legislature.
The House of Representatives has crafted and passed an impeachment bill against Justice Ja’neh, and he is due to face impeachment trial at the Liberian Senate after several months of legal battle if majority of his colleagues vote against his request.
His impeachment comes following accusations levied by ruling party Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC representatives Acarus Gray and Thomas Fallah for alleged proved misconduct and abuse of judicial description.
Through his lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson, Justice Ja’neh challenges the impeachment process as illegal, requesting the Supreme Court to step in and issue a prohibition to prevent his removal from the bench.
In the first vote among four Justices on the bench inclusive of Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., the vote was evenly divided two against two, prompting President George Manneh Weah’s appointment of an Ad – hoc Justice J. Boima Kontoe to break the tie.
Justice Ja’neh’s contention is that the lawmakers are proceeding outside of Constitutional requirement in Article 43 that says the Legislature shall prescribe procedure for impeachment.
He says the lawmakers are proceeding without rules and he wants the impeachment process to be prohibited by the Court.
Based on his complaint against the lawmakers, the Supreme Court issued a stay order and cited the House to a hearing in the case.
But the lawmakers defiantly said they could not honor the Court’s intervention and ordered the Supreme Court to vacate its writ to avoid embarrassment.
True to their words they did not appear at the hearing, but the Court dramatically witnessed the Executive branch’s legal arm, the Ministry of Justice that it invited to argue on the side of the law, later announcing that it was representing the defiant lawmakers.
The Justice Ministry insists that there is no violation of the law, accusing Justice Ja’neh of seeking to prevent the lawmakers from exercising their duty.
In relation to the same case, the Supreme Court has heard arguments on a petition by four Senators that are requesting the Court to declare as unconstitutional, the action of their majority colleagues to amend Rule 63 of the Senate’s Standing rules so as to impeach Justice Ja’neh.
Through their lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, the minority Senators are arguing on the basis of Article 43 and Article 29 of the Constitution, accusing their colleagues in the majority of violating the law.
But in their counterargument, the majority Senators, through their lawyer Sen. Sherman say there is no violation of the law.
Sen. Sherman says the four senators are giving the impression that the mandate that “the Legislature shall prescribe” procedure implies that both the House of Representatives and the Senate shall sit in one room and vote on the mater.
“No your honor, every Legislation begins in committee room,” he argues, emphasizing further that with the exception of revenue generation which must begin at the House for Senate’s concurrence, everything else can start from any of the two houses.The ruling is expected at 10:00 AM at the Supreme Court of Liberia, Temple of Justice.
By Winston W. Parley–Edited by Othello B. Garblah