9 August 2017

Liberia: Constitutional Lawyer Cites Error in Impeachment Proceeding

Photo: Liberian Observer
Liberian Supreme Court justices and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Monrovia — As the Legislature gears up in its move to impeach three Justices of the Supreme Court Bench, one lawyer believes they have already contaminated the process when it hasn't even begun.

The Justices' removal is being sought by the Legislature following a ruling on the controversial code of conduct.

Cllr. Pearl Brown-Bull, an esteemed lawyer and one of the signatories of the 1986 Constitution thinks the process of impeachment wouldn't be fair to the justices.

"The jurors (Senate) have been contaminated because you have three members of the Senate who have placed themselves as prosecutor and petitioner," she said.

"So you can't play both role to render verdict."

Article 43 of the constitution states: "The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate."

"When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside.

"No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate."

"Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense.

"The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law."

Cllr. Bull said she is puzzled over the lack of mention of Chief Justice Korkpor from the list of names to be impeached as he was one of the signatory to the majority opinion.

"If the facts are right and the issues supposed to be emanating from the Karnwea's case, mainly the opinion from the bench, why they would not place him as a party but exclude him?

"Therefore he cannot investigate himself since Article 43 calls for that."

According to Cllr. Bull, the process is not politically wise and lack maturity.

"The procedure process has not yet been done."

"The Legislature haven't formulated the procedure for the impeachment process, and so what terms of reference are they going by?" she wondered.

"They are there representing the people, and it's time that we as a people will render our verdict on October 10."

"The attempt by them is to stop us from rendering our verdict," Cllr. Bull added.

She bragged that her former professor, Justice Phillip A.Z. Banks, possess an intellectual clout par excellence.

"If Justice Banks respond to that petition of impeachment, his response, legally and judicially, will be more than the Liberian Code of Law Revise. "

"The bench is not political and this will not happen because you have an eminent jurist on the bench, specifically Associate Justice Philip Banks."

"He was my professor and I have no regret and I'm satisfied that he serves on the Supreme Court Bench."

Justice Banks is a cousin to Cllr. Pearl Brown-Bull as they both hail from the settlement of Brewerville.

On Margibi County Senator, Jim Tornonlah, she described him as being "ungrateful" because the Supreme Court was the one which pardoned him "to make him a lawmaker today."

Cllr. Bull described that the action by the Legislature is "political because they are not even smart as politicians."

"So the Senate President Joe Boakai who is to preside is busy with his campaign and the Speaker of the House is the running mate to the senate president so who is to preside over the impeachment process," Cllr. Bull asked.


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