OPEN LETTER TO THE LIBERIAN SENATE ON THE REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ASSOCIATE JUSTICE KABINEH MOHAMMED JA’NEH
Hon. Albert Chie
President Pro Tempore and Senator
Grand Kru County
Republic of Liberia
Honorable Members of the Liberian Senate
J. Aloysius Toe, HND, BA, MA, MA, JD
Dear Honorable Ladies & Gentlemen:
I. Summary of the Argument
- Recently, your colleagues in the lower house, the House of Representatives, conducted a kangaroo proceeding in a reckless display of witch-hunt to impeach Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh from the Supreme Court of Liberia. Ja’neh was indeed impeached in a ‘show trial’ in which the outcome was already decided, meaning that the proceeding itself was merely carried out “for show” just to feign legitimacy. Ja’neh’s impeachment and dozens of other mishaps in poor governance, which are currently obtaining in our national politics suggest a return of the 1980s. And, the bitter experience of the 1980s created the perfect pretext under which great havoc of unimaginable proportion was wrought on Liberia in the 1990s. You cannot and must not allow another 1980s to creep in our body polity, for the price is too costly to pay. The below opinion is a result of a two-months intensive review of the records of Monthly and Probate Court, the Civil Law Court, and the Supreme Court of Liberia where the cases, for which Ja’neh is facing impeachment hearings, were filed and held. See attached for more.
- Moses Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah of the ruling CDC, backed by their political god-fathers under the direct urgings of President George Weah, brought falsified and trumped-up charges against Kabineh Ja’neh in a devious display of a high-risk suicidal political gamble. Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’nneh is not guilty of the charges levied against him. He did not interpret the law in the code of conduct debate to “satisfy his (Ja’neh) personal ego and vested interest” as falsely claimed by Gray and Fallah; moreover Justice Ja’neh’s judicial conduct and opinions are immune from sanctions and are protected under Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution. In addition, Justice Ja’neh did not instigate the all-powerful Sherman and Sherman Law Firm to file a Writ of Certiorari before the Supreme Court to halt the enforcement of the judgment of the civil law court, as falsely claimed by Gray and Fallah. He did not “connive with the late J. Nyemah Constance Jr., to illegally acquire a piece of property…owned by Annie Constance….” In fact, Annie Constance does not own the land in question – and no records exist to prove otherwise. Furthermore, Ja’neh did not commit any fraud, theft of property, or corruption. He did not abuse his judicial discretion, or misuse his power. These accusations by Gray and Fallah are a product of guesswork. These are false claims hatched to kill the proverbial dog that must be guilty at all cost, even if the facts prove otherwise. See attached for more.
- These outrageous claims and contentions by Acarous Moses Gray and Thomas Fallah are factually incorrect; legally unsound; sentimentally overblown and overstated; conceitedly revealed only half-information of the events and processes surrounding the cases; intentionally misstated facts and pertinent information; mischievously withheld factual information favorable to Justice Ja’neh, presumably to frame Ja’nneh in what is a likely political witch-hunt. Acarous Moses Gray and Thomas Fallah have one and only one mindset, regardless of the truth and regardless of the future consequences of such thoughtless thinking: They believe that “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- Mr. Pro Tempore and Members of the Senate, if these two cases, for which Ja’neh is been unfairly targeted, had involved the participation of an ordinary judge under the same set of facts and circumstances, they would not even be worthy of street discussion, much less impeachment and removal. But just because they involve Kabineh Ja’nneh, a man whose judicial independence always send chilling discomfort in the spine of the political status quo, a man whose sharp and incisive judicial opinions and dissent always strike at the core of organized political interest, a man who believes that the law must always serve the overall interest of country, and not just a few narrow parochial political interest, we are here beating drums of impeachment and removal, because Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, backed by their political god fathers, believe and swear that “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- Mr. Pro Tempore and Members of the Senate, despite some of you being members and affiliates of the ruling party, and despite any inclination to support whatever side the ruling party takes, I urge you to wear your moral armor and put on your lenses of justice in this case. This impeachment has nothing to do with the claims and reasons provided by Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah. More over, their claims are factually incorrect and legally untenable; and, their conclusions are flawed, fabricated and falsified, as the records from the courts will prove. This case is an attack on the independence of the judiciary. And when people lose confidence, faith and hope in the independence of the judiciary, they resort to violence. Kenya was an example. DON’T PARTICIPATE TO PLUNGE LIBERIA BACK INTO MESS.
- Justice Ja’neh is being targeted for his judicial conduct and opinions, such as in Liberty Party and Harrison Karweah versus NEC in which Justice Ja’nneh supported a unanimous decision declaring the unconstitutionality of portions of the Code of Conduct. This opinion resulted to impeachment petition from some lawmakers against Ja’neh and two other justices. Moreover, the current impeachment is a roaring avalanche of retribution against Ja’nneh for his dissenting opinion (which threatened the political interest of the ruling party -CDC) in Liberty Party Versus NEC, which called for a rerun of the election to the annoyance of Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah. Lastly, Ja’neh is being targeted for his current role in a $30 million road fund case, which was pending before the Supreme Court, money which was badly needed by the current government, as recently reported by Frontpage Newspaper . But targeting a judge for his judicial opinion or judicial conduct is in violation of Article 73 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, yet Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, backed by their political god fathers, are bent on breaking the law, because “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- An independent and impartial judiciary, no matter whose interest is affected by its opinion, is the pillar of our democracy, the foundation of our peace and guarantee of security. When the judiciary is armed-twisted, coerced and threatened with war drums of impeachment because of decision which elected officials disagree with, as was done in the 1980s – era of Samuel Doe, the tragic consequence is a pretext and justification for a 1990 war of Charles Taylor, a repeat that non of us ever want. To threaten judges who issue an unfavorable decision…falls outside the bounds of appropriate and constitutional conduct by lawmakers, and disagreement over a ruling does not constitute grounds for impeachment.
- As we all know, Justices are required to be impartial dispensers of justice. We all expect justices to treat everyone equal under the law. Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh took oath to interpret the law without favor or prejudice, regardless of whose interest is affected; and he did just that. His interpretation of the law was consistent with the principles of fair play and equal justice. He put legal principles first and country second, irrespective of whose political interest was not served. His judicial conduct is not an impeachable offence. Prove Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah wrong! Second, Justice Ja’neh executed a land sale contract, after due diligence, and after making sure that the land had clear title and free from all encumbrances; he made sure that the sale of the land was backed and supported by legal instruments duly issued from a court of law. He acted as any reasonably prudent, willing, able and ready buyer would act. His decision to buy a land duly authorized to be sold by a court of law, is not an impeachable offence. Prove Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah wrong! Third, as Justice in Chamber, we expect him to listen to the grievances of aggrieved parties from the lower court without fear or favor. When the Sherman Law Firm came running to him with a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, Justice Ja’neh, like any other justice would have acted, decided to receive the Petition from Sherman and Sherman. Not only that, he also cited both parties for a conference, and later, to a hearing. When he realized that the case involved an issue of first impression he passed it on to in-coming Chamber Justice Wolokollie, and opted for hearing by the full bench of the Supreme Court. To this day, that case is still before the Supreme Court, undecided. This is a judicial conduct by a Supreme Court Justice, protected under Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution. It is not an impeachable offence. Prove Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah wrong!
- Moreover, action by the House of Representative to impeach Ja’neh and attempt by the Senate to hold removal proceedings are unconstitutional. And with the House of Representative openly disrespecting the Supreme by not submitting to a Writ of Prohibition, this a recipe for constitutional holocaust of mega proportion. The unconstitutionality of the entire process is found in this. Article 43 of the Liberian Constitution authorizes the House of Representatives “to prepare bill of impeachment…” and Article 43 further mandates the entire Legislature (Representatives and Senators) “to prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.” Prior to the filling of the Petition by Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, the Legislature has not prescribed any procedure for impeachment proceedings. As you are aware, Article 21 (a) of the Liberian Constitution require that absolutely “No person shall be made subject to any law or punishment which was not in effect at the time of commission of an offense” under the principles of ex-post facto law. Justice Ja’neh cannot and should not be subjected to any procedures for impeachment proceedings that were not in effect prior to his alleged commission of the issues charged. Furthermore, the Legislature has no authority to conduct impeachment proceedings without constitutionally required procedures that were not in place prior to.
- Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah do not understand the facts and the law involved in these cases, yet they care little or less to know the facts and the law. Gray and Fallah do not have the law and the facts on their side; but they have the power, albeit devoid of reason. But as you know, naked power, devoid of reason, is reckless and abusive; and power allied with ignorance of the law and facts, is the worst enemy of justice. I ask you to prove them wrong! Liberia First, Party Second!
- Mr. President Pro Tempore and members of the Senate, I will prove to you, as the records from the Civil Law Court and the Supreme Court herewith attached and marked as “exhibits” evidently show and confirm, that Justice Ja’nneh legally purchased a parcel of land from John Nyemah Constance Jr (hereinafter known as “Constance Jr”) in 1996. Constance Jr. was of sound mind and legal age when the Monthly and Probate Court issued him Letters of Administration to administer the property owned by his father, the late John Nyemah Constance Sr (hereinafter known as “Constance Sr”). Later, Constance Jr. was also of sound mind and legal age when the Monthly and Probate Court, under the signature of Judge John L. Greaves who later became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, issued Constance Jr. a Court Decree of Sale, to sell the piece of land. Under the strength of these legal instruments, Justice purchased the land, without protest from any party. In 1996, Justice Ja’nneh did not have any power to misuse, as falsely claimed by Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah; he did not have any judicial discretion to abuse as wrongly claimed by Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah; he did not have any authority to influence any decision, as he had just become a lawyer in 1995 as Attorney at Law.
- I will proof to you that Annie Constance, whose plight Accarous Moses Gray and Thomas Fallah are exploiting for political purposes, does not own or control the land in question; nor does any records show that she has legal or equity interest in the land – she has only been residing on the land since 1996 at the mercy of Justice Ja’nneh.
- I will prove to you that Justice Ja’nneh did not misuse or abuse his power to forcibly remove those who were occupying his land, even when he had the power to do so as Minister of Justice in 2003 and later Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2006. He never acted arbitrarily. He did what any of us would do to gain possession of his land. He acted within the confines of the law, consistent with due process: He hired Cllr. Cooper Kruah and the Henries Law Firm to represent him; he sued in the civil law court to evict those unlawfully occupying his land; after 3 years of legal battle (2010-2013) between Ja’neh’s lawyers and the lawyers of Annie Constance, Justice Ja’nneh won the case at the civil law court against Annie Constance.
- I will also prove to you that the lawyers representing Annie Constance announced an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2013, but abandoned their own appeal for four years, complacently relaxing and unlawfully enjoying possession of justice Ja’nneh’s land. For four years (2013-2017), the Supreme Court waited to have Annie Constance’s lawyers come to prove their case on appeal; they never came. Later in 2017, Annie Constance lawyers even asked the Supreme Court to allow them time to seek negotiated settlement with Justice Ja’nneh, but failed to negotiate. In late 2017, Supreme Court of Liberia ruled in favor of Justice Ja’nneh and confirmed the judgment of the civil law court. I will prove to you that Justice Ja’neh recused himself from the hearing and opinion of the case. He stayed out of the case. He did not participate to avoid conflict of interest. He did what any lawyer of profound integrity would do. I will prove to you that the Judgment Without Opinion in this case was rendered by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Justice Philip Banks, Justice Sieneh Youh, and Justice Jamesetta Wollokollie. So where is the fraud? Where is the corruption? And where is the abuse of power or authority? Justice Janneh followed the legal process and he won. Yet, Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah believe that “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- Further as court records regarding the Austin Clark versus Ecobank case evidently show and confirm, I will prove to you that Justice Ja’nneh, as Justice in Chamber, duly and legally accepted a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, consistent with the Civil Procedure Laws of Liberia and the rules of the Supreme Court. He had no prior knowledge of the facts and legal issues of the case. He did not know the contentions of the parties – Ecobank and Austin Clark. He did not know what action has been taken by the lower court and why. He did not know whether or not Judge Konto at the lower court had awarded judgment to Austin Clark. When Justice Ja’nneh received the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari from the all-powerful Sherman and Sherman Law Firm on behalf of Ecobank, and also received legal resistance filed by Austin Clark’s lawyers. Justice Ja’neh did what any other Justice in Chamber would do: He duly cited all parties to a conference, and ordered the lower court to allow him look at the issues raised by both parties before further proceeding. And upon hearing the contentions of the parties in conference, Justice Ja’neh referred the case to the full bench of the Supreme Court, because legal issues of first impression, that have never before been settled, were raised by one of the parties. As we speak that case is still before the Supreme Court. It is laughable and nonsensical to imagine that it will take Justice Ja’nneh to influence and instigate the all powerful Sherman and Sherman Law Firm to file a certiorari on behalf of their client. Yet, Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah believe that “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- I will also prove to you that when Judge Boima Konto in one breath denied Ecobank’s Motion for New Trial, and in the same breadth, dismissed Ecobank’s 1st Appeal without allowing Ecobank’s lawyers the opportunity to argue Austin Clark’s lawyers’ Motion to Dismiss Appeal as he also allowed Austin Clark’s lawyers to argue the Motion to Dismiss Apeal, Judge Konto’s denial of Ecobank’s Motion for New Trial was an interlocutory ruling, subject to review by the Supreme Court, and hence is a basis for a Certiorari.
- I will also prove to you that when Judge Konto deprived Ecobank the right to argue the Motion to Dismiss Appeal, his conduct is subject to judicial review, and hence Certiorari before the Supreme Court is the proper remedy.
- I will further prove to you that when Judge Konto demanded the parties to argue both the Motion to Dismiss Appeal and the Motion for New Trial on the same day despite resistance from Ecobank, and even though the Motion for New Trial was not assigned for that day, his conduct is subject to judicial review, and hence Certiorari before the Supreme Court is the proper remedy. In plethora of case, the Supreme Court has held that party litigants should not be made to answer to issues that were not assigned for hearing. This is the law!
- Finally, I will further prove to you that when Judge Konto in one breath denied Ecobank’s Motion for New Trial, and in the same breath denied Ecobank’s 1st Appeal announced to the lower court’s final judgment, and in the very same breath refused to grant and denied Ecobank the constitutional right to announce a 2nd Appeal from the Judge’s denial of the Motion for New Trial, Judge Konto effectively closed all doors to legal redress and drew finality to the ends of justice, and the only remedy available was to have the Supreme Court review his conduct. So where and how does Justice Ja’nneh abuse judicial discretion. Yet, in the clouded wisdom of Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise.
- This is why I write this letter to ask you to do one thing: ACT RIGHT AND THROW OUT THE PETITON. In this letter, I will present the factual truth and nothing but the truth and give you evidentiary references to court documents, copies of which are attached to this communication as Exhibits.
- There are well-meaning friends and individuals, both at highest level of government and in society, who have questioned my decision to object to the impeachment petition against Ja’nneh, and have confronted me. “Why are you supporting a Mandingo man and a Muslim?” They ask! I say to them in patient terms that “Jesus Christ who has been the source of my inspiration and advocacy is neither a Mandigo nor a Kru nor Gio.” I say to them that “truth has no nationality; that justice has no tribe; and that ‘right’ has no religion.” They further query, “how can you be a sincere human rights advocate when you are defending Ja’neh, a former political leader of a rebel group (LURD) whose forces committed human rights violations?” I say to them, that’s why I stood and worked assiduously hard for the proposition that a war crimes court is needed for Liberia, and that human rights abusers (including Ja’neh if any violations can be attributed to him other than his association in a rebel group) must be dealt with, consistent with due process – efforts that Accarous Gray and Thomas have both kicked against and hijacked for political expedience.” I say to them that “I do not defend Ja’neh, but I am against what I believe to be a wrong being meted out against Ja’neh because of his judicial opinions.” Moreover, I deplore the current wave of legislative gansterism under the false pretense and guise of fighting for the poor by the Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah. Rep. Gray and Rep. Fallah may good people and leaders of our country, but they are misguided and wrong on this issue. So I must speak out, not because it is politically convenient, popular or expedient, but because it is right. So here I am, about to present my case. These are the facts, and they are indisputable!
- Justice Ja’nneh’s interpretation of the Law in the Code of Conduct Debate
Petitioners’ Fabricated Accusations
Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah claim that Justice Ja’nneh’s interpretation of the law in the recent Code of
Conduct debate is a “ serious misconduct…and a wanton and unsavory exercise of judicial discretion… far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues … to satisfy his (Ja’neh) personal ego and vested interest.” (See Count 2 of the petition herewith attached as “Exhibit 1”). These claims are false and misleading. They provided absolutely no evidence to substantiate these wild claims. These are all false claims. Below are the facts. I present them below, backed by documentary evidence
b) The Facts of the Code of Conduct Debate
In February 2017, in the case Selena Mappy-Polson versus the Government of Liberia, Justice Ja’nneh, joined by
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, delivered the majority opinion. In that case, Ms. Selena Mappy-Polson, Superintendent of Bong County, challenged the constitutionality of Section 15.2 of the Code of conduct, which barred her from contesting for elected office unless she resigned three years prior to elections. Mappy-Polson contended that, even if she were in violation of the code of conduct because she did not resign three years prior to elections, barring her from contesting for public office was not part of the exhaustive punishments for violators as provided for in Sections 14.1 and 15.1 of the Code of Conduct. Justice Ja’nneh, speaking for the majority, rejected this argument and held that the Government had compelling state interest to bar those control state resources, to step down 3 years prior to canvasing for public office, and that holding public office was not a right, but a privilege; and the remedies contained in Sections 14.1 and 15.1 were not conclusively exhaustive (see page 43 – 44,a and45 -46 of Opinion herewith attached and marked Exhibit 2). The Supreme Court declared the Act constitutional and said that it barred certain members of the Executive Branch named in the Constitution and holding presidential appointments from engaging in political activities and contesting elective public offices while still retaining those positions.
In Code of Conduct case, Liberty Party and Harrison Karweah versus NEC, Justice Ja’nneh supported a unanimous
opinion of the Supreme Court, delivered by Justice Philip Banks. The Court held that under the criteria elaborated upon by this Court in the Polson case, Harrison Karweah’s violation was not of an egregious nature and hence did not warrant disbarment from contesting the position of the vice presidency in the ensuing 2017 Elections, and that a lesser penalty stipulated in the Code should have been imposed by the Respondent National Elections Commission.” The Court’s conclusion is predicated upon a number of factors, including the sequence of events shown in the records certified to the Court, and which we state herein below. (see page 20 and 21 of Opinion, herewith attached and marked Exhibit 3).
Be as it may, whether Ja’nneh reasoned and ruled rightly or wrongly, and whether his ruling did not meet the
interest of Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, Justice Ja’nneh was not the only justice who took the decisions in both cases; there were three justices in the Polson case, and five justices in the Karwea’s case. So, targeting Ja’nneh may be something other than the stated reason. Gray and Fallah must come strict. Moreover, Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution prevents the legislature or any authority to question or sanction Justice Ja’nneh because of judicial decisions he rendered. Article 73 reads: “[n]o judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers….” Yet, Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah believe that “if you want to kill a dog, it must be guilty at all cost”, even if the facts prove otherwise. I ask you to prove them wrong!
The Kabineh Ja’nneh versus Annie Constance land case
Petitioners’ Fabricated Accusations
20 Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah claim that Justice Ja’neh “surreptitiously connived with the late J. Neymah Constance Jr., to illegally acquire a piece of property…owned by Annie Yancy…” and Gray and Fallah insinuated that Justice Ja’neh’s purchase of the subject property is further evidence of the perpetration of frauds, and theft of property” by Justice Ja’neh. (See count 11 of the petition herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 1”).
The Facts of the Land Case
In November 1996, Justice Ja’nneh purchased a parcel of land in Sinkor through an Administrator Deed. (See land
deed herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 2). The land was sold to Ja’nneh by Constance Jr, believed to be in his mid 40s at the time he sold the land to Ja’nneh. Constance Jr. was the son of Constance Sr. According to the records, Constance Jr. was granted letter of Administration by the Monthly and Probate Court during its May Term in 1960, to administer the property owned by his father, Constance Sr.. Constance Sr., born May 15. 1910, bought the land from one Victoria Johnson Batltharzard in 1951. (See land deed herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 3”). In November 1983, the John F. Kernnedy Medical Center announced that Constance Sr., who was then 63 years of age and had been hospitalized, left the hospital and his whereabouts were unknown. (See Hospital Notice herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 4). Constance Sr. was never found up to the commencement of the Liberian civil war in 1990, and effectively presumed dead after a lapse of seven years according to law. In January 1996, Constance Jr. still serving as administrator, petitioned for and obtained a Court’s Decree of Sale from the Monthly and Probate Court, under the signature of the late Judge John L. Greaves, who later became Associate Justice of the Supreme. (See Court Decree of Sale herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 5”). Based on the Court Decree of Sale, Constance Jr. conveyed the land to Justice Ja’nneh in November 1996, (See document herewith attached as “Exhibit 2).
- Two years later in 1998, Constance Jr. reportedly died, and in May 1998, one Nathaniel Constance, II (hereinafter known as “Constance, II”), petitioned for, and obtained, letters of Administration to administer the same said property, which was granted by Monthly and Probate Court. (See Constance II letter of Administration herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 6). In November 2006, Constance, II petitioned again to re-administer the same property, which was again granted by the monthly and probate court. (See document herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 6”).
- In June 2009, Justice Ja’neh executed Power of Attorney and appointed one Jusufu D. Fofana to take possession of his land, purchased in 1996. (See document herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 7”). In December 2009, Jusufu D. Fofana hired Cllr. Cooper Kruah of the Henries Law Firm to facilitate possession of the land. Cllr. Kruah therefore communicated with all tenants (including one Annie Constance and one Mr. Brown) on the land to vacate within 30 days, a directive which was not complied with by the occupants giving rise the current lawsuit. (See document herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 8”).
- On April 22, 2010, Justice Ja’nneh, through Jusufu Fofanah filed Ejectment Action before the civil law court, represented by the Henries Law Firm, to evict all occupants from the land. (See Complaint and Writ of Summons herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 9” in bulk). Between April 23 and Mary 3, 2010, the Sherriff of the Court could not serve the Writ of Summons from the Court because none of the defendant could be found. (See Sherriff’s Returns herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 10”). On May 12, 2010, another Writ of Summons was issued and served the same day on Annie Constance, a named defendant, who received and signed for the writ. (See Sherriff Returns herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 12).
- On may 21, 2010, a third party, one Nathaniel Constance, II, claiming to be administrator of the same said property, filed a Motion to Intervene (See Movant Nathaniel Constance, II Motion to Intervene herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 13). In his Motion, Constance, II, confirmed that Mrs. Annie Constance was not the owner of the property in questions, but that “Annie Constance… was only living on the property in dispute as widow of the late Constance Sr.,…, and that Annie Constance’s entry on the property now in question was blessed by Constance, II. Consent..” (See Count 4 of Nathaniel Constance, II, Motion to Intervene herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 13”).
- Together with the Motion to Intervene, on the same May 21, 2018, Constance II filed an Answer to the Complaint as required by law. (See Nathaniel Constance, II, Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 14”).
- In his Answer, Constance II accused Justice Ja’nneh of fraud in that the Administrator Deed of 1996 from Constance Jr. to Jusice Ja’nneh, and the Court Decree of Sale of 1996 issued by the Monthly and Probate Court were all “products of frauds”. As the reason for his wild accusation of fraud, Constance II said that because Constance Sr. “got missing on November 9, 1983 up to 1990 during the heat of the civil crisis after 1997 when elections were held before Constance II petitioned the Monthly and Probate Court for Letters of Administration which was the first time and in keeping the Statute governing a person whose where about is or has been for more than seven (7) years unbroken to have obtained a Letter of Administration.” (See Count 4 of Nathaniel Constance II, Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 14”). To further prove his so-called “fraud” allegation against Justice Ja’nneh, Constance II said that “it is only after the elections in 1997 the he petitioned…for letters of Administration, and his letter of Administration is the only first of its kind when Constance Sr. was declared dead by operation of law.” See Count 5 of Nathaniel Constance II, Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 14”). Constance further claimed that “from December, 1989 up to and including 1996 before in 1997 elections were held there series of civil wars in Liberia; for one to say that he acquired property at that time especially where the real property owner’s where about was not known and the Court has not declared such person dead by operation of Law, therefore there was not genuine transition” for Constance Jr to have transferred title to Ja’nneh. See Count 7 of Nathaniel Constance II, Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 14”).
- The logic of Constance Jr. in paragraph 27 above is that, in 1983, when Constance Sr. was declared missing, up to 19990 when he had not been found, and he had not been declared dead by court, therefore Constance Sr. was still presumed alive, even though that period accounted for seven (7) lapse. Secondly, Constance II claims that because there were series of war going on in Liberia between 1990 and 1997, courts were not operational, and that the other seven years between 1990 and 1997 cannot be counted, and no court could had declared any missing person dead as required by law, much less grant letters of Administration to Constance Jr. He further said that it was only after the elections in 1997 that courts were actually doing legal business when he petitioned the court for the first ever letters of Administration. Therefore, letter administration and any Court Decree of Sale given to Constance Jr., as claimed by Justice Ja’nneh, are a product of Fraud. What Constance II, backed by the ignorance of his lawyers who filed such nonsense, forgot is that between 1990 and 1994, Amos Sawyer was Interim President, and courts were functional and operational. Between 1994 to 1997, there were 3 Councils of State, each headed by David Kpormakpor, Ruth Perry, and Wilton Sankawolo; and courts were functional and operational. As records from the National Archive and Probate will show, land sales were going on legal transaction were taking place. So the only reason for accusing Ja’nneh of fraud is because Constance II assumed that no court was operational. This is the same fraud allegation that Accarous Gray and Thomas Fallah are touting on their heads and running with.
- Justice Ja’nneh, through his lawyers, “challenged the legality of Constance II Letters of Administration….in that… Constance Jr was the legal, legitimate and sole Administrator of the Intestate Estate of Constance Sr., who obtained Letters of Administration in the Eight Judicial Circuit of Nimba Caount on the 16th day of August , A. D. 1989 and administered the aforesaid estate for nine years uninterrupted and unmolested until his death on April 1998 durin which period he pass title to Justice Ja’nneh, which title is binding on any other Administrator…” See Count 4 of Justice Ja’nneh’s Reply to Constance II’s Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 15”), Ja’nneh further argued that “the law does not invalidate or make void any letters issued by the Probate Court or any Court sitting in Probate and as such, such letters remain in full force and effect until the estate is either closed or such letters of administration are revoked by the court issue them.” Ja’nneh relied on Sackor Mendohdou et al v. Amos Geadoh and Rev. David G. Kai reported in 39 LLR text at 748-749(1999), and therefor all acts performed by persons holding a legitimate letters of Administration is binding on the estate.” See Count 5 of Justice Ja’nneh’s Reply to Constance II’s Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 15”). Justice Ja’nneh contended that Constance II does not have standing to challenge his title because Constance II power was vested to him as a result of Ja’nneh’s grantor, the late Constance Jr.( See Count 6 of Justice Ja’nneh’s Reply to Constance II’s Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 15”)
- As required by law, Annie Constance did not file any answer or appear within ten days to answer to the complaint against her.
- Consequently, on June 1, 2010, Justice Ja’nneh applied for a Clerk’s Certificate, See Ja’nneh’s Request for Clerk’s Certificate herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 13”), and same was granted by the Clerk of the Civil Law Court on June 2, 2010, stating that “Defendant Annie Constance was served the Writ of Re-Summons, and up to and including the date of the issuance of this Clerk’s Certificate, she has failed and neglected to file an Answer.” See Clerk’s Certificate herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 14”).
- On August 3, 2010, a Notice of Assignment was served on both parties for August 11, 2010 at 9:00am to hear Constance II Motion to Intervene. (See Court’ Notice of Assignment and Sherriff’s Return herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 15”).
- On August 10, exactly one day prior to the hearing of his Motion to Intervene, Constance II withdrew his Intervener’s Answer with the right to re-file; he however did not withdraw the Motion to Intervene.(See Notice of Withdrawal herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 16”)
- At 9:00 on August 11, 2010, neither of the parties was in court when the case was called, prompting the Judge fine both parties $50 each. (See page 5 of Minutes of Court r herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 17”in bulk). It is the practice at the Civil Law Court to line up cases on the same date in row, and call them up for hearing one after the other. When the Court calls a case and the counsels have not yet arrive, the case is tabled temporarily and the next case is called for hearing. After hearing the cases of those present in court, the Court then recalls the cases that were tabled, and if the counsels are in court, conduct hearing. It was on account of this that,
- The Henry Law Firm, representing Justice Ja’nneh, appeared at 10:05am on August 11, 2018, and was ready for hearing; however, the Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance and Nathaniel Constance was absent from court without excuse. See page 5 of Minutes of Court r herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 18”in bulk).
- After the case was for hearing at 10:05am on August 11, 2018 for the second time, Lawyers representing Justice announced their representation and requested to make a submission to the Court. At this time, Lawyers representing Annie Constance and Nathaniel Constance were absent without excuses. Immediately thereupon, the Court noted the representation of Justice Ja’nneh’s lawyers and observed the absence of Nathaniel Constance and their lawyers. The Judge said: “Although the notice of assignment shows at its back, that all parties were served, as evidenced by the signatures of the parties appearing on the face of the assignment, . There being no justification apparent on the face fo the file showing reasons for the absence Nathaniel Constance and his lawyers, this court is left with no alternative but to proceed with the case consistent with the notice of assignment.” The Judge then ordered Ja’nneh lawyers to proceed with the motion. See page 5 of Minutes of Court r herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 18”in bulk).
- Lawyers representing Justice Ja’nneh then moved the court to rule the Annie Constance to bare denial and rule the case to trial because Annie Constance failed to file any Answer; and also drew the court attention to the fact that because Nathaniel Constance withdrew, there was nothing before the court for Nathaniel Constance. See page of Minutes of Court r herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 18”in bulk).
- In its ruling quoted verbatim herein, the Court said “that a perusal of the case file shows that this motion to intervene was filed with this Court on the 21st of May 2010. Based upon the same, this Court on the 4th day of August 2010 issued out a notice of assignment for the hearing of the motion to intervene on today’s date the same being the 11th day of August 2010. The case file shows that, on the 10th day of August 2010, on e day before the date set for the hearing of the motion to intervene, the movant (Nathaniel Constance II) filed with this Court, a notice of withdrawal thereby attempting to withdraw the motion to intervene, which was assigned for hearing on today’s date the same being the 11th day of August 2010. When this matter was called for hearing, consistent with the notice of assignment, counsel for Nathaniel Constance failed to appear to prosecute their motion. Under our law once a motion has been assigned and the party fails to appear to prosecute – that motion then, in fact based upon application will dismiss the said motion. The court further says that a motion or an assignment from the court assigning a matter for hearing is binding upon the parties; even assuming that the movant (Nathaniel Constance) had wanted the withdrawal of his motion after issue has been by the party, the proper course could had been to appear on the date of the hearing and to make that fact known to the court. But its failure to so do, certainly constitute a waiver of said motion. In light of the foregoing, this Court hereby dismiss and deny to Intervene, and order this matter proceeded with, in keeping with law.” See page 6 and 7 of Minutes of Court r herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 18”in bulk).
- Not withstanding the denial of their Motion to Intervene, and without conducting any due diligence, or without any effort to file an amended motion to intervene or to file a new motion, lawyers for Nathaniel Constance filed an Amended Answer on August 23, 2010. See Nathaniel Constance Amended Answer herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 19”in bulk). In the Amended Answer, nothing new was raised and no material or substantial alteration was effected.
- On November 19, 2010, a hearing into the matter was scheduled for the disposition of law issues. Justice Ja’nneh was represented by Cllr. Cooper Kruah of the Henries Law Firm, and Annie Constance was represented by Atty. Mamee Gongbah of the Liberty Law Firm. Atty. Gongbah of Liberty Law Firm, without exercising due diligence to obtain copies of court records since he failed to appear in court, requested the Judge to pass on his Motion to Intervene. See page 5, Par. 2 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 20”in bulk). Cllr. Kruah of the Henries Law Firm resisted the request because, according to him, “the Court already heard the Motion to Intervene and denied and dismiss the said motion on ground that a day before the hearing of the Motion to Intervene, the Nathanial Constance withdrew the Motion.” See page 5, Par. 3 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 20”in bulk). Atty. Gongbah retorted that “there was no record showing that the Court had passed on the Motion.” See page 6, Par. 2 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 20”in bulk).
- Judge Yusuf Kabah of the Civil Law Court, seemingly disappointed about the display of ineptitude by Atty. Gongba, said that “in the face of a demonstration of complete ignorance of this Court’s hearing of this matter, and passing on this motion, I think it would be proper for us to give an opportunity to review the records on that motion, and then we can proceed thereafter. Because the law is, after a ruling is entered, he should be entitled to a copy of the minutes. I can see that there’s a minute by this Court dismissed the motion. But you are demonstrating complete ignorance of it and I’m seeing that the demonstration is supported by the fact that your copy of the minutes is still in the case file. So I have the clerk give you access to the court’s file and will reassign this matter to Monday the 22 of November 2010 in the morning then we will proceed…so this matter is assigned for Monday, November 22, 2010 at 9am, and the parties are to govern themselves accordingly”. See page 7, Par. 2 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 20”in bulk).
- On November 22, the case was called as assigned, Cllr. Idriss Sheriff of the Henries Law firm represented Justice Ja’neh, while all lawyers from the Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance were absence without excuse. After representation by Ja’neh’s lawyers, the Civil Law Court ordered the hearing of the law issues proceeded with, and openly noticed that although Court records show that “this matter was assigned on records for today during our last hearing on November 19, 2010, there being no apparent justification for the absence of the defendant and counsel, the court shall proceed in keeping with said argument. Cllr. Sherriff submitted only one law issue and strongly argued same. He argued that “a defendant who fails, refuse and neglected to file their formal appearance or answer within statutory period of ten days and elected to file a motion to intervene and an intervener answer which he later withdrew is required to be placed on a bare denial.” See page 5 and 6, of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 21”in bulk).
- The Court agreed with Cllr. Sherriff and rule thus, “ the application contained and submission of the Plaintiff is noted and same is hereby ordered granted. It is the law in this jurisdiction that the defendant is required by law in an action to file his answer to a complaint within 10 days as of the service of the said complaint. In the present case, the defendant herein did not go by the elementary requirement of the law, ….this court hereby order the said defendant placed on bare denial of the facts alleged by Plaintiff…. And defendant is estopped from interposing any and all affirmative defense….” See page , Par. 2 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 21”in bulk).
- On December 10, 2010, another hearing was had, where the first witness (Jusufu Fofana) for Justice Ja’neh was qualified. Atty. Massaquoi of Henries Law Firm represented Justice Ja’neh and Atty. Gongba of Liberty Law Firm represented Annie Constance. The Court then ordered a conference for both parties for December 13, 2010 at 1:30pm, and mandated that the minutes shall serve as assignment. See page 5, and 6 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 22”in bulk).
- The Court having ruled Annie Constance to bare denial and a liable judgment against her, the Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance filed a Motion to Relief From Judgment on December 29, 2010 before Resident Judge Yusuf Kaba Presiding. See Annie Constance Motion to Relief from Judgment herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 23”in bulk). The Motion was resisted by Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers, See Justice Ja’neh Return herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 24”in bulk). The case was not assigned until the next term of court.
- On April 12, 2011, a hearing into the Motion to Relief from Judgement was had before another Judge Presiding, His Hon. Peter W. Gbeneweleh. At the hearing Atty. Gongba of the Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance requested Judge Gbeneweleh NOT to hear the motion, because the motion was filed before Judge Kabah in protest to his Judge Kaba ruling. And that if Judge Gbeneweleh heard the ruling, it would mean he is review the action of his colleague. In resistance, Cllr. Cooper Kruah said that Atty. Gongba application was a withdrawal of his motion and that the court should exercise the right to dismiss the motion because there was no guaranteed that Judge Kabba would be reassigned to that the Court again, and that it was meaningless to wait perpertually until Judge Kaba was reassign. He said Atty. Gongba motion was intended to delay and baffle the case. See page 5, and 6 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 25”in bulk).
- After arguments, Judge Gbeneweleh agreed with Cllr. Kruah and denied the motion, reasoning that a request from Atty. Gongba to prevent him from hearing his own motion was a withdrawal of the motion before him. See page 7 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 25”in bulk).
- On April 19, 2011, Atty. Gongba of the Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance filed a second Motion of Relief from Judgment, arguing that the Supreme Court has required by law that all courts afford all parties the right defend their right in a property matter, and therefore Annie Constance must be allowed to intervene and file her Answer. See Annie Constance Second Motion of relief from judgment herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 26”in bulk). Justice Ja’neh lawyers interposed no objection, and Judge Gbeneweleh on September 6, 2011 ordered that Annie Constance intervene in the matter and defend her right. See pages 6 and 7 of Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 27”in bulk).
- The Records show that on August 12, 2012 a hearing for the disposition of law issues was had. The Court ruled in favor of Justice Ja’neh lawyers and reasoned that once an action is taken by previous Administrator with the approval and cognizance of the Monthly and Probate Court, subsequent administrator cannot question and or nullify such decisions. See Court Ruling on Disposition of Law Issues herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 28”in bulk).
- On October 17, 2012, lawyers representing Justice Ja’neh requested Court for Default Judgment against Annie Constance. At the Call of the case, Annie Constance and her lawyers were again absent, even though a notice of assignment was served on them and duly signed for. At that stage, at the request of Ja’neh’s lawyers in keeping with law, a 12-man petit juror was selected, and Ja’neh lawyers presented evidence to them. The Jury was charged accordingly, and allowed to deliberate. See Minutes of Court herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 29”in bulk). The Jury came out with a liable verdict against Annie Constance. See Court Minutes and Jury Verdict herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 30”in bulk). The Judge therefore adjudged Annie Constance liable. To take the ruling, the court appointed Cllr. David Gibson Jr. to take the minutes for and on behalf of the absence of Annie Constance. He took exception and announce appeal to the judgment. See final judgment herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 30”in bulk).
- On January 14, 213, Liberty Law Firm representing Annie Constance filed Motion for enlargement of time claiming that although the court’s final judgment was rendered on October17, 2012, the court appointed law did only gave them the judgment on January 4, 2013. See Annie Constance Motion for Enlargement of Time herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 31”in bulk). The Motion was resisted by Ja’neh’s lawyers. See Annie Constance Motion for Enlargement of Time herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 31”in bulk).
- On April 9, 2013, Judge Yussif D. Kaba of the Civil Law Court approved Annie Constance appeal to the Supreme Court and approved the Bill of Exception, thereby transferring the case to the Supreme Court. See Annie Constance. Approved Bill of Exception herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 31”in bulk). The case was then transferred to the Supreme Court.
- Six months later after the approval of Annie Constance Bill of Exception, that is on and up to October 8, 2013, Annie Constance failed and neglected to file an Appeal Bond and perfect her appeal. Therefore, upon request from Justice Ja’neh, (see Ja’neh’s request for Clerk Certificate herewith attached and marked as “exhibit 32”). Consequently, the Clerk issued the Certificate stating that Annie Constance failed to file appeal bond, and there is no notice of appeal filed. See Clerk Certificate herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 32”in bulk).
- On December 2, 2013, Justice Ja’neh filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal before the Supreme Court. Four years later, on October 12, 2017, Justice Ja’neh Motion to Dismiss Appeal was granted by the Supreme, and the Civil Law Court commanded to resume jurisdiction. In that hearing and option, Justice Ja’nneh recused himself. Judgment was rendered by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Justice Philip Banks, Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie and Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh. See Supreme Court Ruling herewith attached and marked “Exhibit 33”in bulk)
THESE ARE THE FACTS AND THEY ARE UNDISPUTABLE
The facts of the case presented above and supported by the records indicate no wrong doing by Justice Ja’neh. Ja’nneh honestly bought a piece of land from individuals authorized by law to sell land. There is no fraud or appearance of fraud. Impeaching an innocent man for political reasons may sound expedient, but there is a tragic price to inflict upon its perpetrators by the divine hand of justice.
TO BE CONTINUED. PART II COMING SOON