18 March 2019

Liberia: All Eyes On the Senators

The Full Impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja'neh of the Supreme Court of Liberia is in full swing at the Liberian Senate with Chief Justice Francis Korkpor presiding as mandated by the Liberian Constitution.

Already, the House of Representatives that impeached Justice Ja'neh has produced three witnesses who have testified against the Associate Justice.

It Is No secret that this impeachment trial is a challenging time for the Supreme Court of Liberia and our jurisprudence as eloquently stated by both Chief Justice Korkpor and the President of Liberia National Bar Association Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe during the opening of March term of Liberia last Monday.

Chief Justice Korkpor admitted that the Supreme Court is going through a challenging time; something he said, cannot be ignored.

"The impeachment trial going on at the Legislature involving Mr. Justice Kabineh M. Ja'neh, a member of this Court, is unprecedented in the history of our country.

To the best of my recollection, no impeachment proceeding in our nation has taken on the form of a full-blown trial before the Senate," he said.

However, He Said he had no doubt that the honorable men and women of the Senate will, at the end of the trial, make a fair and just determination based on the findings.

In remarks, Cllr. Gongloe agreed with Chief Justice Korkpor that the Supreme Court is challenged, but contended that it is because the Chief Justice is tolerating insolence from the Legislature to the High Court.

The Impeachment Trial of Justice Ja'neh, according to him, is the second time that a member of the Supreme Court bench is going through such proceeding, recalling that a member of the Supreme Court Bench to ever be impeached, since 1847, was Chief Justice Chea Cheapo in 1987 who was impeached for jailing of Judge Harper Bailey, adding "It was a challenging moment for the Supreme Court, as it is today."

Cllr. Gongloe Argued that what makes the impeachment proceeding against Justice Ja'neh more challenging for the Court is that the Bill of Impeachment on which he is being tried is a product of defiance by some members of the House of Representatives, of the alternative Writ of Prohibition issued by a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting in Chambers, acting under the authority of the law.

He Further Said the trial is challenging because the full bench of the Supreme Court did not consider the defiance of the presiding Justice's order as a defiance of the entire Bench, adding "in our view, the failure of any individual, group of individuals, or any department or branch of government to honor an order of this Court undermines the rule of law and threatens the peace, security and development of this country, adding "here lies the real challenge." Like Chief Justice Kporkor, he hopes the Senators will do the right thing in keeping with the law.

All Eyes Are now on the Senate which is usually referred to as the 'house of elders' to do the right thing in accordance with the law of the land.

As the both legal luminaries put it, the senators who are the judges and jurors in this impeachment trial must ensure that their decision whether to remove or acquit Justice Ja'neh must be done to uphold our democracy and the rule of law.

We Want To believe that our senators are cognizant of the fact that whatsoever decision they take will be a precedent for our jurisprudence and posterity will either judge them kindly or harshly.

That is why we are urging them to take the best decision that will be in the interest of the country.

Let It Be noted that we are not asking the senators to take a particular decision. However, all we are asking and to some extent demanding, is for the senators to take a decision that will be in accordance with our organic law, whether for or against.

That is why all eyes are on them now to act accordingly.

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