Banks: “My Home Library Better than Supreme Court’s”

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Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks

Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, who is at the verge of retiring because he has reached the age of 70, on last Friday condemned the Supreme Court’s library, which is funded by taxpayers’ money.

“I take the risk of what I am about to say: that my home library is better equipped with law books and other legal materials than the one at the Supreme Court,” Justice Banks said. He has served the Supreme Court since 2013 replacing Chief Justice, Johnny N. Lewis. Justice Banks was speaking at the induction ceremony of officials of the Association of Prosecutors of Liberia, in a conference room at the Temple of Justice.

His statement comes against the backdrop of huge financial investments made in the judiciary like the provision of attractive salaries and emoluments for judges and the construction of courthouses in some of the 15 counties by the government of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with the support of the international community. Justice Banks’ statement also comes against the backdrop of the recent United States Department of State Human Rights Report, which traced the roots of serious human rights abuses to the lack of justice, including judicial inefficiency and corruption, lengthy pretrial detention, denial of due process, among others.

Justice Banks further explained that he had spent a huge amount of money to equip his personal library, although Justice Banks who has been very outspoken as of late did not explain further what is responsible for the dilapidated condition of the Supreme Court library. Continuing, Banks said, “I’ve even spent almost all of what I have earned including salaries to get law books and other research materials for my library. These are parts of the reform and development I am talking about as lawyers. The books and materials are so much that my room cannot afford to hold them and I am constrained to put some of them on the floor.”

However Banks did not disclose just how much money he has so far spent on the library which he claims compares more favorably than that of the Supreme Court.

Banks’ criticism of the Supreme Court’s library appeared not to have all troubled the only other Supreme Court Justice at the occasion, Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, who, during his remarks lavished praises on Banks. “Everything Justice Banks had said is true because he is one of the best brains on the bench,” Ja’neh emphasized.
Ja’neh also suggested an amendment to the Constitution especially the portion that talks about the age for the justices. “Banks has reached his point to provide legal knowledge as justice, but he has to retire because of age 70,” he said.

Article 72 (b) of the 1986 Constitution states that: “The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy; provided, however, that a justice or judge who has attained that age may continue in office for as long as may be necessary to enable him to render judgment or perform any other judicial duty in regard to proceedings entertained by him before he retained that age.”

Admonishing the prosecutor’s leadership, Justice Banks reminded them that they should not be overwhelmed about winning criminal cases, because their role is to ensure that defendants and complainants get justice. “Your task is not easy and it does not lubricate but you have to remain on board to see to it that justice is upheld in any criminal case that you would handle for the prosecution,” Banks told the leadership.

The Prosecutors’ new president, Jerry Garlawolu, responding on behalf of his officers commended his colleagues for the confidence reposed in him, and promised to justify that confidence. “I am honored to serve alongside men and women who are committed to the oath of our respective offices: to protect and uphold the Constitution, defend it and fairly interpret it at all times in deciding cases involving the rights of all party litigants, irrespective of ethnic background, religion, gender, political affiliation or nationality,” Cllr. Garlawolu declared.

Garlawolu also promised that one of his major priorities is to build a partnership with actors in the criminal justice system. “We pledge to work with everybody including the Ministry of Justice to improve the justice system.”

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Why should anyone be surprised in a country which seems so public-library-averse that that essential learning resource exists neither in the capital city Monrovia, nor in Rural Liberia. So instead of bragging, Justice Banks should be embarrassed. He was dean at the law school, minister of justice twice, and on a bench with colleagues who were his former students, yet in an expanding digital age failed to influence upgrade of the Supreme Court’s library.

    His boasts speaks volumes of the corrosive effect of self-centeredness in Liberia’s continuous backwardness. It has always been few getting atop, and pulling the ladder of opportunity after them. Considering our nation’s age, we shouldn’t be dealing with problems of national unity; that’s why giving the pro-poor impetus a chance is so crucial.

    The MRU basin is experiencing seismic tremors. For instance, some Liberians are reliving the contentiousness of the presidential run-off election; a new Sierra Leonean President faces a hostile Legislature; the embers of sectional conflicts in Ivory Coast are still hot; protests over alleged stolen local elections claimed 15 lives in Guinea, and more protests are pending

    Now you see why Justice Bank’s egotism doesn’t deserve a complimentary story, “Daily Observer”.

    Granted, he is well-read, even brilliant, but supposedly many fail to see admirable traits, or any substantial contribution made apart from helping to train some lawyers at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. Although Banks should be retiring in June, were I president he would be retained another year to help ensure a first class library at the Supreme Court!

    • Banks’ group, Liberia Law Experts, is currently negotiating to sell the copyright to the Liberian government. Those involved won’t name the asking price, but Varney Sherman, a former presidential candidate who worked on the project with Banks and is party to the negotiations, says the “small fee” is “closer to $100,000” than $360,000. (The entire government’s 2007-2008 budget was $207 million, according to the Liberian Finance Ministry.) President Johnson Sirleaf said in an Oct. 12 interview that she is willing to entertain compensation for “whatever they may have spent out of their own resources,” but insists, “Rightfully, those copyrights belong to the government.” She hopes to have the situation sorted “within a year.” ” Foreign Policy

  2. Phillip Banks must be one selfish and shameless man for doing nothing to improve the neglectful situations he now musters the audacity to lament while on his way out. This is the kind of empty education characteristic of most of our rulers past and present that got us where we are today. Phillip Banks could have done so much as such to improve not only the library he described so scornfully, but the judiciary as a whole. Or was he afraid the enlightenment of upcoming legal minds in Liberia would have sensitized them to his inherent thievery as demonstrated with the Nigerian guy’s money few years ago? No wonder Mr. Banks could afford to furnish his private library with books and furniture even the Supreme Court could not afford. After all half a million can do a lot in Liberia, especially for one family. That blight too, will be interred with your bones, sir!

  3. “I’ve even spent almost all of what I have earned including salaries to get law books and other research materials for my library.” You mean also the Nigerian businessman Chief Ayika´s money you pocketed. You should be ashamed of yourself making such disgusting utterances and wrongly believing you are bragging or boasting, Banks. The only legacy the Liberian people know of you is that you are simply a “CHARGE AND BILL LAWYER” OR OPPORTUNIST.. one of whom brought disrepute to the Liberian Supreme Court through out your tenure from 2013 to 2018.

  4. I know you are a legal scholar who would like to see the Liberia legal justice system continue to grow and prosper. Stealing a sentence from Mr. Moses, “Justice Banks was Dean at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law,, Minister of Justice twice (who is Dean of the Court), and on a Supreme Court Bench for so many years with colleagues who were his former students”, and did not do anything to help the Supreme Court’ Library. But he can still do one selfless thing in his career; those legal books that he boasts of so much, he can donate it to the Supreme Court Library, that not only him can have access to, but all the other lawyers in the country.
    Thanks Justice Banks!!

  5. Perhaps if you give us back our laws that you have allegedly copyrighted we will also have a better library than you. Or have you forgotten? “Neither the courts, nor the lawyers, nor even the Liberian parliament have a physical copy of the country’s legal code. That’s because one man is claiming a copyright on the books — and he’s holding them hostage until he gets paid.”http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/11/12/hes-got-the-law-literally-in-his-hands/

  6. “Neither the courts, nor the lawyers, nor even the Liberian parliament have a physical copy of the country’s legal code. That’s because one man is claiming a copyright on the books — and he’s holding them hostage until he gets paid.” ….The man who has literally taken the law into his own hands is Philip Banks, appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as chair of the country’s law reform commission. He served twice as Liberia’s justice minister, first during an interim government in the 1990s and again under Johnson Sirleaf beginning in 2007….Banks’ group, Liberia Law Experts, is currently negotiating to sell the copyright to the Liberian government. Those involved won’t name the asking price, but Varney Sherman, a former presidential candidate who worked on the project with Banks and is party to the negotiations, says the “small fee” is “closer to $100,000” than $360,000. . . . President Johnson Sirleaf said in an Oct. 12 interview that she is willing to entertain compensation for “whatever they may have spent out of their own resources,” but insists, “Rightfully, those copyrights belong to the government.” She hopes to have the situation sorted “within a year.” – Foreign Policy

  7. Maybe the cheap old man should donate his library to the Ministry and stop holding it over their heads. He’s near the end of his term here on life. He should give back to Liberia. I found this article prideful and shameful. You should know better old man.

  8. If the the Supreme Court Library is ill-furnished and weak-equipped with research materials and sophistications , no one has to take the blame but the Supreme Court itself which is led by the justices themselves. This is because, they are the ones who desing and execute the budget of the Court. Therefore, they should’ve over the years upgraded the stardards of the Library ( refered legal stockpile of our nation).

  9. Banks is a common criminal. He stolen a lot of money. He has an estate in North Carolina. He will retired there.

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