Liberia: 'I See the Issues Beyond Justice Ja'neh'

Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks has clarified that, though his appearance at the impeachment trial in the Chambers of the Senate on Thursday, March 21, 2019 was in obedience to a subpoena issued for his appearance, "I appeared and saw the issues beyond Justice Ja'neh."

The former Associate Justice who currently teaches Constitutional Law at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, was responding to a question by one of the lawyers representing Managers of the House of Representatives, whether his appearance was to testify for the embattled Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja'neh in the ongoing impeachment trial.

Asked whether he was at the hearing with the intention to influence the minds of the Senators, who are serving as jurors at the impeachment trial, Cllr. Banks responded: "You are not correct; it was only a few weeks ago when I had the occasion to speak at this year's (February 11) Armed Forces Day celebration. I stated in my statement, and I reiterate it here that I went into the law and I remain in the law, because of the passion that I have for the law."

Cllr. Banks continued: "I repeated in that statement (from Armed Forces Day) that I personally suffered great pains and I see in my view that the law is not followed. I have been a strong advocate for many years, and my records at all of the conventions and assembles of the Bar Association attested that I have made appeals for Liberian lawyers to speak to those critical legal issues that affect our nation."

Cllr. Banks, a former chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), said that most of the exams he administers to his students at the Law School are opinions he had written at the Supreme Court; "and the questions to them always are, tell me if or where I have gone wrong in the law... so that the analysis that they make in my opinion helps to build me up; to build the country up; the law up. And where they have convinced me that I was wrong, I have given them the praises and the glory.

"So I have come here not to influence the Senators; only to explain to them the history and the tough process that went into the impeachment provisions of the Constitution, the same as I would explain to anybody, anywhere in relation to any other provision in the Constitution. I have great confidence in the Senators, and they have minds of their own; I believe I owe myself and my country a duty, to see what I see and what went into the making of the Constitution."

On the statement that the Liberian Constitution is a replica of that of the United States Constitution, the former Associate Justice said, "I am aware specifically, referencing impeachment, an obligation is imposed on the Legislature to promulgate rules of procedure, but more importantly the United States Constitution, as far as I am aware in relations to impeachment, it does not provide for due process of law. That due process of law was imposed by our framers and I indicated to you that many of the provisions in our Constitution have come from the experiences that our framers had with past governments."

Meanwhile, Chief Justice and presiding officer Francis Saye Korkpor last Thursday appointed President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Albert Tugbe Chie, as foreman of the jury, while Bong County Senator Henry Yallah was asked to serve as secretary to the jury.

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