Liberia: “I Remain Associate Justice,” Ja’neh Declares; Wants Justice Kaba Commissioning Declared Unconstitutional
MONROVIA – Impeached Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Kabineh Ja’neh, has not laid to rest issues surrounding how he was removed from the Supreme Court. Not only does he maintain that his removal was unconstitutional, he also believes he remains an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Ja’neh is also of the opinion that the manner in which Justice Yussif Kaba was nominated, confirmed and commissioned violates the sacred Constitution.
Mr. Ja’neh contends that the replacing him on the Bench in the absence of a judgment and sentence by the Senate as required by the Constitution was a flagrant disregard to the organic law and has, therefore, petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the commissioning of Justice Kaba unconstitutional.
In the petition to the Supreme Court, Ja’neh referenced Article 43 of the Constitution which stipulates the maximum penalty to be imposed on a judicial officer found guilty after trial by the Senate. The petition noted that it is left to the triers of the fact to determine what the penalty/sanction to be imposed depending upon the gravity of the violations committed. In the case leading to his impeachment, Ja’neh was found guilty of only one of the five charges levied against him.
“…in the case at bar, the Petitioner [Ja’neh] was found guilty of only one of the five charges levied against him. Hence, the need for the triers of the fact to determine whether in the face of the other charges being without any magnitude, the one charge for which the petitioner was found guilty was sufficient to warrant the imposition of the maximum penalty or a reprimand. However, no such judgment was entered up until the disbandment of the jury and the termination of the trial. Petitioner further submits that until such pronouncement is made in a judgment consistent with law, Petitioner maintains that he legally remains an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. It is therefore important that the Supreme Court makes a pronouncement on the issue,” the petition noted.
He argues in the petition to the Supreme Court that in the absence of the entry of a judgment on the verdict in the impeachment trial, there has been no sanction imposed to remove him and the position has not been legally vacated.
Ja’neh’s Petition: “In spite of this, and in the face of the non-entry of a judgment by Co-Respondents, both the Presiding Officer [Chief Justice] and the Liberian Senate, the President of the Republic of Liberia, in flagrant disregard for and violation of the Liberian Constitution, has proceeded to nominate His Honor Yussif D. Kaba, Resident Circuit Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, Montserrado County, as Associate Justice to replace the Petitioner who has served for over twelve (12) years on the Supreme Court Bench; and the Co-Respondent Liberian Senate, also in gross disregard for and violation of the Constitution and other laws of the Republic, as with the President of Liberia, has proceeded to confirm the said nominee as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. And that further to such violations, the President of Liberia has committed the additional violation in commissioning the said Judge Yussif Kaba as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia to replace the Petitioner.”
The petition explains that Ja’neh upon submission of the summary verdict report by the President Pro-Tempore of Liberian Senate, he (Ja’neh) objected to the recording of said summary verdict report, calling for a new vote in accordance with Section 24 of the Senate Amended Rule 63 and the votes retaken in the spirit of fair play, equity, transparency and the law.
His appeal was, however, denied by Chief Justice Korkpor who presided over the impeachment trial at the Senate who, after recording the summary verdict, immediately ordered the jurors (The Senators) disbanded, declared the impeachment trial closed and terminated the proceedings without the entry of a judgment on the verdict.
Making mention of the ‘flaws’ in the impeachment process, Ja’neh referenced a communication from Senator Sando Johnson who objected to the process through which the verdict was reached. He also referenced the situation where the Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie took custody of the ballot box without security monitoring mechanism in place.
He believes the Pro-Tempore’s action was with the acquiescence Chief Justice Korkpor as he ordered that the verdict be read and recorded.
The petition contended the Chief Justice decided to ignore the alleged violation on the part of the Senate Pro-Tempore and the allegations of juror tampering in disregard to the law of hoary. With such a case, he said, the Chief Justice who presided the trial should have ordered an immediate investigation before recording the verdict.
“The Presiding Officer conducted no such legally contemplated and required investigation. Indeed, Senator Johnson’s allegations that the ballot papers were altered thereby making a voting Senator unidentifiable, as well as the reported action of the President Pro-Tempore of taking custody and control of the unsealed ballot, were in violation of Senate Amended Rule 63,” Ja’neh noted in the petition.
With his arguments, Ja’neh petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the as unconstitutional the nomination, confirmation, appointment and commissioning of His Honor Yussif Kaba as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia to replace him in the absence of a judgment and sentence, and to grant unto him (Ja’neh) such other relief as the law, justice and equity demand in the premises.