Chief Justice Rules Against Justice Nagbe Recusal from Justice Ja’neh’s Impeachment Proceeding

Justice Nagbe was asked to recuse himself because he was a member of the Senate when the Bill for Impeachment was sent by the House to the Senate. Lawyers opined that he might have discussed the topic at bar prior to becoming an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

Monrovia –  Chief Francis S. Justice Korkpor on Monday, October 22, 2018 rejected call the newly commissioned Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, a former Senator, to recuse himself from impeachment proceeding of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.

Report by Kenney L. Yangian, [email protected]

Chief Justice Korkpor disclosed the Supreme Court’s decision in a ruling with respect to an application made before the Court last week Thursday from the team of lawyers representing the legal interest of the embattled associate justice.

The application filed by Cllr. Arthur Johnson contended that Justice Nagbe, being a former member of the Senate, was an active lawmaker when the bill was crafted by Members of the House of Representatives and has therefore had an opinion on the topic.

“Petitioner reasonably believes that there was a normal interaction formally or informally between members of the House of Representatives and Senate that is to also reasonably conclude that Associate Justice Nagbe took part into discussion of the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh while serving as Senator of Sinoe County,” the petition for his recusal noted.

However, Cllr. Johnson’s argument was countered by Solicitor General Daku Mulbah who prayed the Court to deny the petition on grounds that Cllr. Johnson and his team failed to provide proof to their accusation against Associate Justice Nagbe.

In his own defense, Justice Nagbe said there was no need for him to recuse himself from the proceeding because he was being accused without evidence by the petitioners.

“I find it very difficult to recuse myself because there is no proof of my involvement in the case and that I have done nothing wrong to recuse myself from Ja’neh’s impeachment,” he said.

In the Monday ruling, Chief Justice Korkpor said order for a justice to recuse him/herself from a hearing in the determination of a case, tangible, factual and concrete reason must be provided.

According to Chief Justice Korkpor, to suggest that Associate Justice Nagbe was member of the Senate therefore he discussed the matter and took a particular position was not correct.

“To rule that a Justice Nagbe should recuse himself without establishing a fact will set a bad precedent where anybody could request for a justice to step down,” said Chief Justice Korkpor.

After the ruling, the Court commenced hearing into the Writ of Prohibition filed by Cllr. Johnson on the impeachment proceeding at the Legislature on ground that the bill of impeachment submitted by the House to Senate was not done in accordance with established procedure.

He said, when an Associate Justice is accused of impropriety as claimed by the lawmakers against Associate Justice Ja’neh, what was needed to be done was that a complaint should have been filed to the Chief Justice where two other Justices will join him to investigate and findings made thereafter and it is upon the findings an impeachment proceeding can take place.

But Solicitor General Cllr. Mulbah contended that the Constitution provides that lawmakers of the House of Representatives are clothed with the authority to craft impeachment.

 Following the arguments, ruling was reserved by Chief Justice Korkpor to be delivered on a later un-announced date.

The impeachment bill against Associate Justice Ja’neh was filed by two lawmakers of Montserrado County, Acarous Gray of Montserrado County District#8 CDC and Thomas Fallah Montserrado County District #5 CDC 

Both lawmakers have accused Associate Justice on multiple counts ranging from corruption and misuse of public office.