Liberia: Weah Nominates Judge Gbeisaye to Supreme Court

Judge-Yamie-Quiqui-Gbeisay

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

President George Weah has nominated Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisaye to the Supreme Court, elevating a well-regarded circuit court judge who, if confirmed, would make history.

Gbeisaye would then become the second judge Weah has nominated as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court — breaking Associate Justice  Yussif D. Kaba's record.  

Weah has shaped the balance of the high Court with three original judicial nominations — the elevation of Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh as Chief Justice,  Associate Justice Joseph N. Nagbe, a former Senator of Sinoe Court, former relieving Court Judge Kaba, and now, Gbeisaye who heads Civil Law Court ‘B’ Montserrado.  

The Supreme Court comprises five justices who are equal in decision making and four are appointed by Weah.  In Gbeisaye,  Weah is nominated as 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, Nimba County, 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.

Gbeisaye,  in time past, 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.

The newly designated Associate Justice is expected to begin meeting with lawmakers at the Senate anytime soon to begin confirmation. If confirmed by the Senate, He would replace Yuoh, a well-respected jurist who has been confirmed as Chief Justice.

Yuoh replaces retired Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who officially stepped down from all court duties. Korkpor retired on September 5, after attaining the constitutional retirement age of 70 for justices and judges,  pursuant to Article 72(b) of the Constitution.

While his confirmation would not change the court’s southeastern balance, it would ease some criticism against Weah.  The Liberian leader has faced criticism for Yuoh’s nomination.  Youh served as Associate Justice on the Korpor bench for about nine years before but has seen her nomination criticized due to 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 designate and Associate Justice Yussif 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. 

Associate Justices Joseph N. 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 confirmation also completes the 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.

For any Supreme Court justice nomination, the president first chooses his preferred candidate and the Senate then votes to confirm that nominee, which requires a simple majority. Gbeisay ascends to the Associate post with a wealth of experience, having practiced for many years before the lower courts and this Court but the confirmation battle that will play out in the Senate. 

However, is one of the nation's brightest legal minds and has an unusual breadth of experience in the legal system, giving him the perspective to be an exceptional Justice.