By R. Joyclyn Wea
The Supreme Court of Liberia on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 suspended arguments into the recent writ of prohibition issued by its Justice -In-Chamber Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh placing a stay order on the House of Representatives to discard it impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
The court decision follows the alleged refusal of the House of Representatives to honor the high Court citation to appear before that honorable body to show reasons why the petitioner petition as prayed for should not be granted as well as in preparedness by petitioner’s (Justice Ja’neh) counsels to filed their legal brief.
It can be recalled the honorable Supreme Court through its Justice-In-Chamber Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh on August 18, 2018 issued a writ of summon against the House of Representatives instructing both parties to return to status quote pending the disposition of the petition.
Justice Yuoh further placed a stay order on the House of Representatives to stop all impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh until the matter can be looked in.
The Justice-In-Chamber decision was based upon a writ of prohibition filed by legal counsel representing the interest of Associate Justice Ja’neh growing out of a petition for the impeachment of Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh of the Supreme Court of Liberia for proved of ‘misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, frauds and misuse of power.’
Wednesday August 22, 2018 was the date set for argument into the impeachment, but sadly the House of Representatives did not show up, but wrote a communication to that honorable body warning the court leave the writ and avoid embarrassment to the sacred institution of the supreme court.
The House in its communication claimed that the writ violates Article 3 of the Liberian Constitution which talks about separations of powers, Article 42 immunities clause, Article 43 impeachment powers and a long line of cases and precedence in this jurisdiction and its progeny.
“You are therefore advised in the interest of our constitutional democracy and consistent with the separation of powers and checks and balances to vacate this writ this writ and avoid embarrassment to the sacred institution of the Supreme Court,” the House communication further indicated.
Petitioner lawyers for their part, pleaded with the court for time to do more research based upon the nature of the matter.
According to Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers, they received the court notice of assignment on Monday, August 20, 2018 mandating them to file their legal brief on the next day August 21, 2018, something which they claimed was responsible for them not filing their legal brief on time as instructed by the court.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court wrote the Ministry of Justice inviting the Solicitor General as an expert to give legal opinion on what is unfolding.
The MOJ was also invited by the court to give legal advised as to what the law says about impeachment, but the MOJ appear and informed the court that they needed time to research and come up with opinion in this matter.
Based upon this, the court suspend the argument for next Wednesday same being August 29, 2018 to entertain argument in this matter giving additional one week for the parties to appear before that honorable body.
Read full text of the writ of prohibition and petition by the petitioner, His Honor Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
- On July 17, 2018, Honorable Thomas P. Fallah, Representative of District #5, Montserrado County and Honorable Acarous M. Gray, Representative of district #8, Montserrado County, submitted a petition to the Honorable House of Representative by and through the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honorable Bhofal Chambers, for the impeachment of the petitioner, His Honor Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. The petit on alleges “proved Misconduct, Abuse of Public Office, Wanton Abuse of Judicial Discretion, Fraud, Misused of Power and Corruption” as the bases for the impeachment of the petitioner. Copy of the impeachment petition and the accompany exhibits are hereto attached in bulk as petitioner’s Exhibit “A”.
- The impeachment petition alleges the following as the purported constitutional grounds for the impeachment of the petitioner:
I the petitioner misinterpreted and misapplied the code of conduct; see count 2 of the impeachment petitions.
Ii The petitioner exercised his judicial discretion while presiding in chambers by issuing a remedial writ in the case: Ecobank Liberia Limited versus Austin Clarke. See counts 5 to 11 of the impeachment petitions.
Iii The petitioner’s purchase of a parcel of land in 1996 from J. Nyema Constance, Jr. See counts 13 to 18 of the impeachment petitions.
- Upon receipt of the impeachment petition, the Speaker forwarded the petition to a Special Ad Hoc Committee which he constituted to review the petition and submit a report to the plenary within three (3) weeks. See the minutes of the 46th Day Sitting of the 54th Legislature of the 1st Session of the Honorable House of Representatives, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, hereto attached as Exhibit “B.
- Petitioner says that it is a settled and well-established principle of law in this jurisdiction that a Writ of Prohibition will lie, not only to prevent the doing of an illegal act, but to also undo that which has been illegally done. For reliance Honorable Jenkins K. Z. B. Scott, Minister of Justice versus The Job Security Scheme Corporation, Inc., 31 LLR 552, Syl. 1.
- Petitioner says although the Liberian Constitution confers jurisdiction on the Respondent House Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings however the same Constitution also requires that in the exercise of this authority the House of Representatives must not be in violation of any of the applicable and relevant constitutional provisions, with specific and particular references to Articles 20 (a), 71 and 73 of the Constitution.