11 August 2017

Liberia: Impeachment Can't Stop Elections

Veteran Liberian lawyer Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman says to the best of his knowledge, impeaching three justices from the Supreme Court Bench cannot stop elections here on grounds that a most senior circuit court judge plus the remaining two justices can form a quorum and decide elections cases.

"...[And] I have had such case that three of the justices are compromised and they cannot sit on it. Then the most senior judge from the circuit court in terms of tenure joins the two Supreme Court justices to form a quorum of three," Sen. Sherman told a joint interview conducted Wednesday, 9 August at his office on Capitol Hill.

Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja'neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court's decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.

Sen. Sherman differs with suggestions that getting them impeached at this time of the elections may have some very critical impact against the electoral process. The impeachment proceedings are being worked out following protests by Sen. Dan Marais, Sen. Dr. Peter Coleman, Sen. James Tornola, Sen. Numene Bartekwa and Rep. George Mulbah against the Supreme Court decision last month that received mix public reaction.

The Grand Cape Mount County Senator says he doesn't see how this impeachment proceeding affects elections, arguing that when ordinarily you have a case before the Supreme Court and three of the justices are compromised, the most senior circuit judges plus two justices can form a quorum.

He contends that there is a precedent already that an election case can be decided by two justices plus a senior judge from the circuit court. "Now I remember the last time I had a case before the Supreme Court where something like that happened was when I challenged a member of the Unity Party who wanted to be a member of the House of Representatives," he notes.

When the case was taken to the Supreme Court, Sen. Sherman says three of the justices were compromised, and therefore the remaining two justices plus one senior circuit court judge came together and decided that election case.

"So I don't think there's any, so it is that precedent that an election case can be decided by two justices plus a senior judge from the circuit court, when three of the justices are compromised. I use that as precedent," he concludes.

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