Liberia: Supreme Court Justice Ja’neh’s Impeachment Hearing Delayed by 3 Days
Chief Justice to issue New Writ of Summons for Associate Justice and Team of Lawyers to Appear for Trial
Henry Karmo [email protected]
Monrovia – It appears that the ongoing impeachment trial involving Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh will have to start from scratch as Chief Justice Francis Korkpor honored defense lawyers representing the legal interest of Justice Ja’neh’s request for the filing of a new writ of summon for them to appear before the Senate for trial.
In the defense lawyers’ argument Wednesday, a writ of summon should be issued to the accused by the presiding judge but in the ongoing case the writ was issued by the Senate under the signature of the Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie who is not by law allowed to preside over the case.
Said Chief Justice Korkpor: “His contention is that I as the presiding officer should have been the one to issue a writ summon and for the sake of progress, we will issue a writ of summon and give them three days to appear for the hearing of this case. It is up to them to file any formal complaint because this is a criminal as well as civil trial, the decision that of today we will a new writ of summon under my command and after that we will set a date for the trial,” Chief Justice Korkpor said.
While issuing a new writ of summon the Chief justice has also mandated the secretariat of both Houses to make available all documentation to the defense lawyers from the date the proceeding started.
The defense Team had earlier requested for 10 days but that request was rejected by the chief justice.
In contrast to the decision by the chief Justice, the legal team representing the legal interest of the House of Representatives argued that the rule governing the proceeding is Senate standing Rule 63, which says the writ of summon should be served by the presiding officer.
Said Cllr. Cyrenius Cephas: “The rule calls for a writ of summon to be issued by the presiding officer prior to you coming your honor to the accused reciting the article resolution, notifying him to appear before the Senate at a day and a place named in such writ of summon. The presiding judge has nothing to do with the writ of summon in this case; the presiding officer is the Honorable Liberian Senate. Your arrival is the commencement of the trial and that the law. Every time I stand, I keep saying the rule governing this procedure is senate standing rule 63.”
The Writ of Summon from the Senate was served in the wake of a Writ of Prohibition filed by four members of the Senate – Senators Conmany B. Wesseh, Daniel Naathen, Milton Teahjay and Oscar Cooper.
These Senate members prayed the Supreme Court to issue a stay order on the Senate’s proceedings in the impeachment of Supreme Court’s Associate Justice Ja’neh.
The Senators asked the Supreme Court to be mindful of the authority and power to impeach a public official, specifically the President, the Vice President, the Chief Justice, and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts whose removal from office can only be done through impeachment, as provided in Article 43.
The impeachment proceeding begins exclusively with the House of Representatives, while the authority to try and effect the impeachment lie exclusively with the Senate.