Liberia: Supreme Court Requests Judge's Impeachment

press release

Liberia's Supreme Court has ordered its clerk to forward the name of Associate Commercial Court Judge Richard S. Klah to the House of Representatives for possible impeachment proceedings against the judge for receiving bribes amounting to USD$19,700.00.

According to a press release, the High Court's order was contained in an Opinion handed down on Friday, 16 August based on recommendations by an Investigative Report on a complaint against Judge Klah.

The complaint was submitted against the judge to the Court by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), a body setup within the Judiciary Branch of Government to investigate complaints against judges.

The complaint was filed with Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. by Mr. Swansey Fallah.

Mr. Fallah accused Judge Klah of soliciting and receiving bribes from him (Mr. Fallah), amounting to USD$19,700.00 in order to decide a case in his (Mr. Fallah's) favor.

The Supreme Court, in its August 16, 2019 Opinion, said Judge Klah's action amounted to perjury when he denied under oath before the JIC that he called and sent text messages to Mr. Mousa Abdul Karim and Mr. Swansey Fallah, plaintiff and defendant.

The court says Judge Klah later conceded that he did communicate with the parties after calls and SMS records from Lonestar Cell MTN were admitted into evidence.

The incident occurred in a debt action which Judge Klah presided over.

The Supreme Court notes that his subsequent concession that he did communicate with the parties only after the production and admittance into evidence of calls and SMS records from the Lonestar Cell (MTN), amount to perjury, a crime punishable under Liberian law.

The court finds that the judge did not only bringing his sincerity and honesty into question, but also casting serious aspersions on the integrity of the entire judiciary.

The High Court held that the actions of Judge Klah are in direct violation of Judicial Canon 24 which forbids judges from engaging in private interviews, communicating with parties appearing before them with the intent of influencing their judicial action.

The release also states that, the full bench of the Supreme Court also empowers the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to take the administrative action to inform Judge Klah not to preside as an Associate Judge of the Commercial Court of Montserrado County to afford him the opportunity to defend himself at the Legislature.

"The High Court, having determined that Judge Klah's handling of the debt case between Mr. Mousa Abdul Karim and Mr. Swansey Fallah was influenced by gross impropriety and irregularity, declared the judgment rendered by the judge null and void and the trial ordered denovo (started anew).

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