Liberia: Judge Gbeisaye Gets Commissioned as Associate Justice Today

Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisaye 

.... In Gbeisaye,  Weah is about to commission a jurist who is “widely respected among his peers with a formidable intellect and command of the law.”

President George Weah is expected to commission Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisaye to the Supreme Court, elevating the circuit court judge to the position of associate justice.

Gbeisaye, who is the second judge Weah has nominated as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court after that of Associate Justice  Yussif D. Kaba.

Weah over the last five years in power has shaped the balance of the high Court with three original judicial nominations.  He elevated Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh as Chief Justice, appointed by Sinoe Court Senator,  Joseph N. Nagbe, as  Associate Justice and that of  former relieving Court Judge Kaba, and now, Gbeisaye who heads Civil Law Court ‘B’ in  Montserrado.  

The Supreme Court comprises five justices who are equal in decision making and four are appointed by Weah. Gbeisaye, having been confirmed by the Senate, would  replace Yuoh's earlier position on the Supreme Court, as Associate Justice.

Gbeisaye's commissioning comes about 50 days after he was nominated and confirmed by the Senate as provided by Article 68 of the 1986 Constitution.

The article provides that " the Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court shall, with the consent of the Senate, be appointed and commissioned by the President; provided that any person so appointed shall be:(a) a citizen of Liberia and of good moral character;  (b a counselor of the Supreme Court Bar who has practiced for at least 5 years… "

However, the provision did not spell out the time or a period of which the president should take to commission the Senate confirmed justice.  By the law, President Weah did not violate any provision of the Constitution to delay the commissioning of Gbeisaye.

Gbeisaye was nominated to the post by Weah on September 7, 2022  to replace Yuoh,  who was being elevated to replace retired Chief Justice Francis Korkpor.

In Gbeisaye,  Weah is about to commission a jurist who is “widely respected among his peers with a formidable intellect and command of the law.”

The Nimba County native ascends to the Associate Justice position as a nonsense judge who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the Liberian people.

According to sources, he fits Weah's sought-after candidate — one with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law.

Born on May 3, 1959, in Ganta, Gbeisaye has been in active legal practice for 24 years. And 7 of these years has been a judge — nominated and confirmed as Relieving Judge in  2015 during the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In time past, Gbeisaye,   has been known as a "no-nonsense Judge'' for his tougher stance in punishing lawyers who had grossly disobeyed the court as well as frowning on prosecution for the continuous delay of cases — which impacts the judicial branch's public image negatively. Nearly all of his ruling, when appealed, was held by the Supreme Court. 

He has also been outspoken on the failure of the government to address the lawlessness in the country, and the manner and form in which it has also failed to protect its citizens as well as decry the salary range of judges, which he says is far below that of the rank of ministers.

However, Gbeisaye's commissioning  would not change the court’s southeastern dominance, it would ease some criticism against Weah. 

The Liberian leader faced criticism for Yuoh’s elevation as a result of her ancestry link to the Southeast, a region that now controls the nation's highest court, making it four out of five justices.

Out of the four Associate Justices of the Court, two are directly from the southeast, while another two have ancestry links to the region.  The Chief Justice and  Kaba are the two individuals with ancestry linked to the Southeast. Kabba's ancestry is from Rivercess County, though he was born in Montserrado County. 

Nagbe and Jamesetta Wolokollie are natives of Maryland and Sinoe counties, respectively. Wolokollie and Youh were appointed to the bench by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The Southeasterners are native to Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh, and River Cess counties, but this region of Liberia is extremely poor despite producing at least two of the country's presidents.   

Youh's commissioning last year completed Southeasterners' control of the three branches of the current government.  Weah hails from Grand Kru; House Speaker Bhofal Chambers is from Maryland, and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Tugbe Chie is from Grand Kru County.

The Supreme Court plays a key role in Liberian life and is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between the states and politicians, and final appeals on elections matters.