Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie says the Liberian Senate will soon conduct impeachment trial against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, following the Supreme Court’s majority decision Wednesday, 6 February that it cannot interfere in the Senate’s internal rule making.
“We are going for the trial,” he says, adding that it will begin “very soon.”He told reporters outside the court that in a country of separation of power, the Supreme Court ruled that it cannot interfere in the internal rulemaking of [the Senate].
In the majority’s opinion, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe read that the Court cannot intervene in any matter in the form of hindering proceedings…
But Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard – Wolokolie has dissented that the Supreme Court has again lost the opportunity which is critical in ensuring that the Legislature follows the requirement of due process in impeaching a judicial officer.
This latest majority Supreme Court decision on Wednesday denying the four senators’ petition means lawmakers are now armed with the support of the nation’s highest court to go ahead to try Justice Ja’neh for charges levied against him by ruling party Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmakers.
Chief Justice Korkpor will be invited by the Senate to preside over the impeachment of Ja’neh when the trial commences at the Liberian Senate.
However Associate Justice Wolokolie argues in her dissent that the four Senators sought clarity from the Supreme Court regarding precedence of impeachment as prescribed in Article 43 of the Constitution.
But she says “unfortunately,” the majority decided to dismiss the four senators’ petition on procedural grounds.
Article 43 of the Constitution requires the Legislature to prescribe procedure for impeachment, but the Senate amended Rule 63 of its standing rules while impeachment instruments from the House of Representatives were being presented to the Senate against Ja’neh.
“By the decision, the court has lost the opportunity to settle once and for all the case of issue of national concern surrounding the constitutionality or otherwise of the procedure being adopted by the Legislature in carrying out its impeachment proceeding against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh,” Wolokolie says.
Justice Wolokolie argues that because of the several constitutional issues raised in the petition, Justice Ja’neh prayed to Chamber Justice Sie-A-Nyeneh Yuoh for the alternative writ of prohibition to be issued.
She recalls that Justice Yuoh had issued the alternative writ and forwarded the matter to the full bench.
But the Supreme Court in December denied Justice Ja’neh’s petition he filed to stop the impeachment processes initiated against him by the House of Representatives, accusing the body of proceeding by wrong rules.
It held in the majority opinion that the House did nothing wrong. Ja’neh’s long – time workmake Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., and new Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, backed by ad – hoc justice Boima Kontoe had ruled that Ja’neh’s petition was premature and therefore denied it.
Ja’neh’s final legal hope to save him from being impeached may have been the intervention made by four Senators who were opposed to their majority colleagues’ decision to amend Rule 63 of their internal rules to pave the way to try him.
The House of Representatives has already presented to the Liberian Senate, instruments intended to be used to impeach Justice Ja’neh, but challenges advanced by Ja’neh and some members of the Senate have over the time delayed his appearance before the Senate to face impeachment trial.
He stands accused of alleged proved misconduct, abuse of power and abuse of judicial description, and the engine behind these allegations are ruling party CDC Representatives Moses Acarus Gray and Thomas Fallah.
-Pro Tempore says after Court’s ruling
By Winston W. Parley