Liberia: Supreme Court Halts House’s Proceedings to Impeach Justice Kabineh Ja’neh
Monrovia – Just a day after she assumed her role as the Justice-In-Chamber, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Youh, has placed a stay order on the pending impeachment proceeding against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh by members of the Lower House of Representatives.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian, [email protected]
Justice Youh also ordered the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Atty. Sam Mamulu, to notify the House of Representatives of the Legislature headed by the Speaker, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, to appear before her in the Chamber of the Supreme Court on August 18, 2018 at 9 a.m. for hearing over the issuance of an alternative Writ of Prohibition prayed for by Justice Ja’neh.
“You are commanded to instruct respondent (members of the House of Representatives) to stay all further proceedings in the matter and that the parties are ordered returned to status quo ante, pending the disposition of the petition,” Associate Justice Youh order dated August 9, 2018 stated.
The Associate Justice’s order to place stay order on the impeachment proceeding of Justice Ja’neh stems from a 14-count petition for the writ of prohibition filed before her by five lawyers, Cllrs. James E. Pierre, Laveli Supuwood, Emmanuel James, Johnny Momoh and Arthur Johnson opposing the bill of impeachment forwarded to the House of Representatives by two lawmakers from Montserrado County, Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah against Justice Ja’neh.
Both Reps. Gray of Montserrado County District #8 and Fallah of District #5, all of the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC), stated that Justice Ja’neh should be impeached because he has allegedly committed a serious official misconduct by allegedly engaging in the wanton and unsavoury exercise of his judicial discretion far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues simply to satisfy his personal ego.
In furtherance, the two lawmakers also want Ja’neh impeached for what they termed as “proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of his office by allegedly allowing justice to be served where it belongs no matter the status of the party affected.”
According to the two CDC lawmakers, Justice Ja’neh has allegedly engaged in proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform his functions beyond reproach and has surreptitiously connived with the late Nyema Constance Jnr to illegally acquire a piece of property located in Sinkor which is owned by 90-year-old Annie Yancy, the surviving wife of the late Nyema Constance Sr.
But the five lawyers in their petition argued that under Article 73 of the 1986 Constitution provides that no 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 acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers.
The five lawyers further argued that the Liberian Constitution Article 71 provides the Chief Justice and Associate Justices and that of Judges of subordinate courts of records shall hold office during good behavior, they may be removed upon impeachment and conviction, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.
The lawyers again argued that Article 20 (a) of the same 1986 Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in the Constitution in accordance with the due process of law.
The lawyers in their petition continued that the Liberian Constitution requires that an impeachment of a justice of the Supreme Court or judge of subordinate court of record must be based on four grounds as required under Article 71 of the Constitution, proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the function of their office or conviction in a court or law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes but the lawmakers’ bill of impeachment clearly have not met the four requirements needed for impeachment.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, petitioner prays your honor to issue the alternative writ of prohibition and have same forwarded to the full bench of the Supreme Court for a hearing and determination because the petition for prohibition squarely raises constitutional issues,” said the lawyers. The lawmakers are yet to respond to the petitioners’ petition.