Chief Justice Asked to Recuse Self from Impeachment Trial

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Senators, who will serve as Jurors in the impeachment trial, being sworn in by secretary of the Senate.

Senator Chie says trial of public officials are political matters

Drama ensued at the Legislature on Thursday, February 14, 2019, when the impeachment trial of Associate Supreme Court Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, which was scheduled for hearing, was subsequently adjourned by the request of lawyers representing him.

Shortly afterwards, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate Albert T. Chie said that impeachment trial of public officials, including the current trial that involves Associate Justice Ja’neh as well as others all over the world, are political matters, though not judicial in nature.

“That is why, for example, under the American and Liberian systems of laws, these trials are conducted in public houses like the Senate,” Pro Tempore Chie said in a statement on Thursday. He was speaking at the commencement of the trial of Associate Supreme Court Justice Ja’neh in the Chambers of the Senate on Capitol Hill.

The Grand Kru County senator said that the role of any presiding officer is essentially to provide legal guidance to the process, “and not to turn the Senate into a courthouse, with lawyers gearing up for a legal battle with prolonged motions and delays.”

“The cardinal aim of the process,” Senator Chie said, “is to give the accused a fair and speedy trial in a political forum…”

Senator Chie told the jam-packed Chambers that the Senate on November 15, 2018, received members who displayed articles of impeachment, along with supporting documents, charging Associate Justice Ja’neh with what they considered felonious crimes brought against him by the House of Representatives, namely: “Theft of property, perjury, fraud, corruption, proved misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion and misuse of power.”

On November 19, 2018, Senator Chie informed the gathering that in line with Article 43 of the Constitution and the approved Rules and Procedure on impeachment, they “summoned the Associate Justice and gave him the opportunity to respond to the charges levied against him by the House of Representatives. Respondent Associate Ja’neh filed his returns with a special appearance disposition on November 27, 2018.”

Accepting the gavel to preside, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor promised to operate in line with the provisions of the Constitution, adding: “The Constitution requires that impeachment proceedings conform to due process of law. It is my responsibility as the presiding officer to ensure that all parties, including the Justice who is on trial, are accorded due process. Presumption of innocence is at the core of our jurisprudence and we shall respect this throughout this trial.”

Korkpor said that as presiding officer, he has the authority “to allow or disallow any question which, in view, will not serve the end of justice. You will please yield in the event your question is disallowed.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Korkpor has announced that a motion has been filed in the current impeachment case so that he can recuse himself.

“We will hear the case and listen to arguments and then make appropriate decisions on Monday, February 18, which will include whether I will still be presiding.”

If he will be ruled to continue presiding, Korkpor said protocol time of 10:a.m. as applied at the Supreme Court will be used for this impeachment trial, which may run on Mondays and Fridays.

By his request and in accordance with law, senators present at yesterday’s preliminary hearing were sworn in under oath by secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh.

Six respondent lawyers and members of the Legislature were well represented in the Chamber yesterday.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Kabineh Janeh, you could be convicted on ANY of the 12 articles of impeachment against you. I MEAN YOU COULD BE FOUND GUILTY, CONVICTED AND REMOVED BASED ON JUST ONE SINGLE COUNT OF THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST YOU AN IMPEACHED JUDGE!!

    You and your lawyers are the dullest lawyers in Liberia. Law IS NOT arithmetic or mathematics. Your motion or objection would have only been difficult to trash or overrule had Chief Justice Korkpor voted against the dismissal of the case mentioned by you, or had he abstained from signing in your favour.

    Secondly, and most importantly, count nine of the ARTICLES of IMPEACHMENT charged by the Honorable House against you and your misdeeds and mis-conduct IS NOT the entirety of the articles of impeachment. Count Nine is simply a single ONE OF THE TWELVE of the articles of impeachment or 12 of the charges against you.

    And you CAN be convicted and REMOVED SIMPLY ON ANY OF THOSE 12 COUNTS OR ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT OR CHARGES AGAINST YOU VIZ YOUR MISDEEDS OR PROVED MISCONDUCT!

    Now, you and your “waterside” lawyers should listen up. Impeachments are not the same as cases, controversies, or disputes, before courts. This is why in structuring impeachment proceedings, the Senate has virtually unbounded discretion. That is, the Senate’s sole power to try all impeachments thus includes the authority to redefine or eliminate almost every standard feature of judicial trial!!!

    In short, the Senate itself must decide whether and to what extent the strictures of Due Process Clause even apply to impeachment trials. Remember, any of the Chief Justice’s rulings can be overturned by majority vote of the SENATE!

    Again, you may have only made a logical argument had the Chief Justice voted against your favour, or it were a matter of must that a judge could only be found guilty, convicted, and REMOVED, upon all charges or all counts. But an impeached judge may be found guilty on JUST ONE OF THE MANY COUNTS! HENCE, YOUR ARGUMENT IS AS DEAD AS A DEAD CASE!

  2. In Ja’neh’s impeachment trial, all sorts of corrupt political games will be played. Ask yourself this question…..

    What makes it logical for the Chief Justice”s recusal?

    A follow-up question goes like this: Do the lawyers of Ja’neh suspect that the Chief Justice know something that could potentially damage their client? Or just simply put…..
    What are the lawyers hiding?

    The eyes of the people are being kept off the prize! It’s being done to divert people’s attention from the crux of the case. Ja’neh could be let off the hook, although it’s been documented that the property of a 90-old was mishandled by Ja’neh. What’s there to disprove?

    Let’s hope that justice will be served. I am somehow dubious though.

  3. F.S. Honey, if those corrupt and incompetent lawyers called Sie Nyene Yuoh, Jamesetta Wolokolie, Arthur Johnson, Tiawen Gongloe, Kofi Woods, and the impeached Kabineh Janeh himself attempted to have the public believe the House of Representatives needed an approval from the Supreme Court to impeach Janeh, their ignorance in action at this juncture about the recusal of the Chief Justice in the Senate’s judgement for the conviction, acquittal, or removal of the impeached Kabineh Janeh is simply another attempt to obstruct justice.

    But of course, as their first attempt was trashed by the House, so too, their laughable motion anout recusal is doomed to be trashed by the Senate and the CJ!!! When the thief is caught, he screams and kicks. But that doesn’t prevent his punishment. So too is this scenario.

  4. Impeachment of Judge Kabineh Janeh by the Representatives in the Legislature was legally and politicly constitutional!

    This Rebel turned judge’s loose morals, abuse of power, irregular judicial proceedings, betrayal of trust, and in some cases financial malfeasance, and obstruction of justice have brought untold disrepute to the Supreme Court in particular and to the Liberian judicial system in general.

    So as far as I am concerned, now that this rebel turned judge has been impeached, he must be convicted and removed!

  5. Let’s remain calm and stop prejudicing the case. We know the Law but the interpretation is quiet different our understanding.

  6. Comrade Dortu-Siboe Doe,
    I’ve got your point! Obstruction of justice. Or worse yet, con artists. They pretend that something is being done. In reality, they’re false pretenders.

    Mr. Zoedjallah,
    I hereby agree with you once again that the gentleman should be severely punished. Yeah, a removal from the bench is one step forward. A jail term will definitely seal the deal.

    However, the punishment aspect is uncertain.
    He should. But will he?

    • Comrade F.S.Hney,

      I am very much elated that this government has prioritized the sanitization of the judicial system by beginning with the Bench of the Supreme Court. Oh yes, SANITY WITHIN THE JUDICIARY IS A NOBLE AND LEGITIMATE POLICY.

      We want and need nominees with basic intellectual acumen, reputation for legal scholarship, competence in a particular area of the law; experience as a judge, lawyer, legislator, or executive; integrity, and morals; and of course, judicial temperament. But most importantly, they must have the mind of A THINKER, AND OR A LEGAL PHILOSOPHER!

      The impeachment of Janeh by the Honourable House and of course, the showdown between the Supreme Court and the House as to which branch “all power is inherent”, and the now prosecution of the impeached judge by the Senate shall ever be an unforgettable lesson for justices of the Supreme Court that article 43 or the ” political” question doctrine is a constitutional indicia that cases, disputes, or controversies, brought before .the Supreme Court cannot be equated to impeachment which is the sole jurisdiction of the Legislature, and to which even presidential pardon is inapplicable!!!

  7. Attorneys and Counsellors-At-Law representing Mr. Justice Kabneh Mohammed Jan’eh appear to be highly desperate and clearly out of line when it comes to what is the law, tradition and what is the cultural of the laws of Liberia requires and demands of them legally and professionally.

    First and foremost, Justice Jan’eh and his legal team, are totally and absolutely out of line factually and legally; this is so because:

    1. They wish to relitigate the facts and the laws they replied on but painfully lost before the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia.

    2. First Justice Jan’eh and his legal team prepared and filed separate petitions for Writs of Prohibition before the Supreme Court of Liberia, praying the Court to prohibit and inhibit the House of Representatives and Senate from holding the impeachment.

    3. Mr. Justice Jan’eh and Legal Team’s Petitions for the issuance of Writs of Prohibition were assigned, heard and declined by the Supreme Court of Liberia.

    If Mr.Justice Jan’eh and his legal team thought they were unfairly injured, they had every right to file a Motition to reargue their Petitions. This, they failed to do within10days.

    4. Acting as if the Supreme Court of Liberia and the Legislature do have the same and identical authority under the Constitution of Liberia, they have rewritten their Petitions for Writs of Prohibition, transported same from the orbit of Judiciary of Liberia and venued the same and identical Petitions before the Senate.

    The Senate and House of Representatives,both make up the Legisture and political branch of the Government of Liberia. The Legislature, has no judicial power to prohibit itself.

    As a matter of Law, in Liberia, Petition for a Writ of Prohibition, shall be filed only at the Supreme Court of Liberia and determined by that Court.

    5. As a brainchild of Justice Jan’eh’s Petitions for Writs of Probition, they have gone again in total desperation and highly offensive to the laws and practice of Liberia to request and demand that Chief Justice Korkpor must decline presiding over the impeachment of Justice Jan’eh.

    The action and reaction of Mr. Jan’eh and his Legal, is nothing but chasing after the unreal and unknown. No issues of law is in conflict here.

    Let Mr. Justice Jan’eh submit himself to the impeachment proceedings and be tried by the Senate or resign to save the Legal Profession.

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