Chief Justice Denies Application to Remove Cllr. Banks’ Testimonies from Trial Record

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Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor (left) ruled to uphold Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks' (center) testimony as an expert witness, even though Banks was accused of testifying in favor of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja'neh (right).

Managers’ lawyers to produce another ‘expert witness’ 

 Lawyers representing the House of Representatives, also known as the Managers’ Legal Team in the ongoing impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh, on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, suffered a setback when Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., denied the motion to remove the testimony of ‘expert witness’ Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks from the ‘Impeachment Trial Records.’

Chief Justice Korkpor, now presiding over the Ja’neh impeachment trial, said the Managers’ lawyer, particularly Cllr. Albert Sims, should have allowed the jurors (the Senators) to make the decision whether the expert witness, Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks, is qualified or neutral to serve as an ‘expert witness,’ in the ongoing trial. Cllr. Banks is a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice ruling was prompted following a motion of application to remove Banks’ testimonies by the Managers’ Lawyers on three counts, including that Banks does not have a degree in Constitutional Law, excepts he teaches Constitutional Law at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law of the University of Liberia, which itself does not give  him the right to be an expert witness in constitutional issues.

The petitioner’s counsel (the Managers’ Lawyers) also argued that Banks’ testimony should also be removed from the trial record, “because his provision in the constitution, which he relied upon to indicate that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional has been settled by the Supreme Court.”

“The Supreme Court is the final interpreter of all constitutional matters, and no single man or expert has the authority to declare unconstitutional a provision in the constitution that the Supreme Court has declared valid,” Cllr. Sims argued.

He further argued that the expert witness, Retired Associate Justice Banks, is not a neutral witness as evident by his testimony, numerous testimonies… and that he should have just given his expert opinion, and left the rest to trial lawyers. But for the expert witness to admit issuing writ of prohibition to halt the payment of the Road Fund Act, suggests his testimony should be erased from the trial record.

Prior to the petitioners’ motion of removal of the expert witness’ testimonies, the Managers’ Lawyer in their questions, said  Cllr. Banks as expert witness in constitutional law, does not have a degree in constitutional law, neither has he published any book or article in any professional journal, nor was he a member in the National Constitutional Commission.

Cllr. Banks in response, told the forum that he had a graduate degree; he did a graduate studies in constitutional law as visiting scholar to Yale University in the U.S. and had published a number of works, including a publication that dealt with the independence of the Judiciary, published in the Liberian Law Journal.

“In the work, I did not only deal with the constitutional history as related to the judiciary, but also dealt with the other branches of government. And over the last one year and the half, I have also been putting together a comprehensive volume on constitutional law, particularly Liberian constitutional law that will be about 1,000 pages,” Banks clarified.

He also said when the Liberian system broke down during the civil war, he traveled to every institution he knew, including American law schools to gather materials that would put the legal system back in place.

“The volume that is currently used in the Supreme Court is the handiwork I put together, with the help of few other Liberians, who have interest in the seeing the laws restored,” Banks said.

He further argued that when he went to the National Constitution Commission, he served initially as the Senior research officer in the Legal Department, while Cllr. Winston Tubman was the director, but served for a short while, and was appointed as Minister of Justice, “and so I became the director.”

However, the Managers’ Lawyers  announced a notice that they will provide  an expert witness to rebut Retired Justice Banks’ testimonies.

Banks’ recent testimonies were in continuation of his testimonies, which began on Thursday, March 21, 2019 as an expert witness in the impeachment trial, but stressed  that though his appearance was in obedience to a subpoena issued for his appearance, “I appeared and saw the issues beyond Justice Ja’neh.”

Asked whether he was at the hearing with the intention to influence the minds of the Senators, who are serving as jurors at the impeachment trial, Cllr. Banks responded: “You are not correct; it was only a few weeks ago when I had the occasion to speak at this year’s (February 11) Armed Forces Day celebration. I stated in my statement, and I reiterate it here that I went into the law and I remain in the law, because of the passion that I have for the law.”

Cllr. Banks continued: “I repeated in that statement (from Armed Forces Day) that I personally suffered great pains and I see in my view that the law is not followed. I have been a strong advocate for many years, and my records at all of the conventions and assembles of the Bar Association attested that I have made appeals for Liberian lawyers to speak to those critical legal issues that affect our nation.”

On the statement that the Liberian Constitution is a replica of that of the United States Constitution, the former Associate Justice said, “I am aware specifically, referencing impeachment, an obligation is imposed on the Legislature to promulgate rules of procedure, but more importantly the United States Constitution, as far as I am aware in relation to impeachment, it does not provide for due process of law. That due process of law was imposed by our framers and I indicated to you that many of the provisions in our Constitution have come from the experiences that our framers had with past governments.”

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

13 COMMENTS

  1. When we questioned Banks being referred to as “expert witness”, some childishly thought we had something personal against a man we have never physically seen nor interacted with.

    A man does not have any degree in Constitutional Law, but teaches Constitutional Law at a law school, only because he claims to have been a “visiting scholar” to a foreign law school.

    And to add insult to injury, he becomes an “expert witness ” in an IMPEACHMENT trial. Still worse, this VERY now exposed NON – CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER was appointed to a Supreme Court responsible for constutional issues.

    And the rascal was also one of those who tried to disparage another law graduate simply because the individual studied and graduated abroad.

    NO WONDER THE CROOK AND CORRUPT RASCAL WITH A VERY BAD RECORD AT THE ECOWAS COURT, HAS BROUGHT SO MUCH DISREPUTE ON THE SUPREME COURT OF LIBERIA.

    • Obama taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago my brother. Does Obama have a degree in constitutional law? Show me any of the Justices at the SCOL who have a degree in constitutional law.

      Most lawyers specialize in a particular area of law by choosing more courses of interest in that particular area in law school, and then practice in that area after law school.

      Most lawyers also devote their entire practice of law on a particular area of law through research. I am yet to see a specific law degree program that focuses on Constitutional law, besides an LLM or a Ph.D in law which are based on research. You claim to be a lawyer DSD, so please tell me the law school you got your degree from so I can check it up.

      • Teaching a course in Constitutional Law and teaching Constitutional are not the same. Appointments on the Bench of the Supreme Court are generally political appointments as Banks himself said recently. My demonstrations of legal scholarship in the four major branches of the discipline of Law are testamentary of my advanced legal scholarship.

        For example, MY REBUTTAL to Banks’ false and misleading testimony or assertion that “a decision of removal or conviction from the ongoing impeachment trial could be challenged in court ” HAVE BEEN PROVEN RIGHT BY THE CLARIFICATION MADE BY THE ECOWAS COURT.

        Also, my argument that whether in an adversarial or accusatorial system whether in a case before the Court or an IMPEACHMENT TRIAL , the ACCUSERS (the House), and the JURORS (the Senate) CANNOT be required to prescribe a SINGLE rule as Banks again intends to mislead others via such falsehood, SHOULD SERVE as an INDICIA of my knowledge in the art of the knowledge of understanding and interpreting the law.

        So, when ANYONE (in this.case you, an ordinary lad) knowledgeable of another’s astuteness (in this case mine) but for absolutely no logical or necessary justification , ecpect us to unecessarily give you such attention of submitting to you.our cv, and when you do not qualify for such attention, naivety is the obvious on your part.

        So, to recap, assimilate that teaching a course in Constitutional Law does not ipso facto metamorphose one into a constitutional lawyer – not to talk about a Banks who is been WRONGLY referred to as an ” an expert witness” and whose ignorance or at least mediocrity in Constitutional Law has been made evident by the ECOWAS COURT’S CLARIFICATION.

        • DSD, once again, you do not need a degree in Constitutional law to teach constitutional law, or interpret the constitution. I agree that most appointments on the SCOL are based on political leanings, but one needs to be a lawyer with lots of legal experience in any area of law to be appointed.

          Dr. Amos Sawyer is not a legal scholar but he headed the Constitutional committee that re-wrote our Constitution in 1986.

          As I said earlier, Obama’s degree was not in constitutional law when he taught constitutional law at a renowned university like the university of Chicago. Banks is a lawyer with an LLM in law. He’s a former Justice of the SCOL, and a former Minister of Justice, so I am sure and most would agree that he knows the law. He would not be teaching a constitutional law course at the UL if he was not qualified.

          Justice Banks research and interest has been in constitutional law, so I think it was a losing argument for the Prosecuting Team to argue that he’s not an expert when the man was on the SCOL for a number of years. The Chief Justice knew better, hence he shut down the Prosecuting Team’s argument.

          DSD, I know you are a CDCIAN, but you do not have to be a blind loyalist or partisan. Speak the truth when you see one my brother. You claim to be a lawyer so I expect you to be above petit politics

        • Dortu – Shouldn’t you be proud to tell people where you got your law degree? Everything about you is a secret. Even your name is fake. I’m not a lawyer but the last time we debated whether President Weah had the authority to dismiss tenured officials, you lost that argument. The Supreme Court ruled against Weah and I was right. So how is it that you claim to be some top lawyer but you don’t understand statutory law?

        • Even by American standard, Mr. Philip Banks would be considered an expert witness because not only was he a Supreme Court justice, he has written and published legal works for Liberia that is in use today. I read about his contribution to the Liberian legal library in the New York times years ago and I was very impressed. It makes no sense that Cllr. Sims would ask that Mr. Banks testimony be quashed because he’s not an expert. Really?

          So Dortu as usual doesn’t know what’s he’s talking about and if he claims to be a lawyer, what contribution has he made to the legal profession in Liberia or elsewhere? He hasn’t. He’s all talk…a typical Liberian dude. His reasoning makes no sense to anyone on this forum.

  2. Counselor Albert Simms must be a dumb Lawyer by all indications to say that Justice Banks cannot comment on constitutional matters because he does not have a degree in constitutional law. Dummy Simms, the man is a former Supreme Court Justice. He’s a law professor at the UL where he teaches constitutional law.

    Obama has a 1st degree in law but taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. When you go to law school, you graduate with a general 1st degree in law, but choose courses of interest in law school such as Corporate, Criminal, Family, Constitutional, International, Administrative, Environmental and Human Rights law.

    When people choose the above specific courses of interest, they focus on that particular area through research and practice either in the public or private sector. Dummy Simms should know these things.

    • There are many quasi lawyers in Liberia. In fact Counselor Gongloe tried to use ex post facto legal theory to argue that the Legislature was in violation of the constitution because it was making rules after the fact to try Justice Ja’neh. His ignorance of the constitution was revealed in that argument because the constitution gives the House and Senate the authority to make its own rules to conduct legislative business. They can change their rules anytime. Those rules only apply to legislative business, not the ordinary citizen on the streets of the Republic. Those rules are not laws. The US Congress and Senate make rules to conduct legislative business. So long the rules change receives a majority vote, and then it’s legal. That’s exactly what happened in the Liberian legislature, so there was nothing unconstitutional about it. I think most Liberian lawyers are incompetent. They don’t speak or write very good English and perhaps don’t understand the English language very well. For an English-speaking country, diction is very poor and they don’t enunciate words correctly.

    • I forgot to mention that Crl. Gongloe was not successful in his silly argument before the Supreme Court. The Liberian constitution is so elementary compared to the US constitution and I’m surprised that a lawyer like Gongloe would make a fool off himself like that.

  3. We practice law as partners in Nimba County. Like roughly 60% of Liberian lawyers we do not have law degrees but are quite familiar with the law having practiced for over 40 years. (The superintendent of Nimba County at times interferes with court matters and enforces his will since he controls law enforcement in Nimba County. For example, I live on the estate of Joseph Boayue, not a close relative by the superintendent giving me that right. Similarly i believe this impeachment case is an outreach of presidential influence to unjustly punish an associate supreme court justice through surrogates in the legislature) .My last name was adopted from that family, my father was a servant to their family, The theory of the law and the quality of expertise Justice Bank brings both as a scholar, former Associate Justice and former Attorney General should be valued in Liberia because it is rare. Unfortunately, we live in the times of ignorant legislators (former houseboys, cab drivers,elementary school drop outs, war lords,etc) and an ignorant president who is barely educated and allows himself to be “drug up” most of the time while indulging in intimate relationships with young boys and other men. What low ebbs Liberia has come to.
    Bravo for an EXPERT like counselor Banks!!!
    Counselor James Boayue (cell #0888305743) & counselor saye kollie boayue (cell# 0886257214)

    We are former rebels and live near Ganta City on The Joseph Boayue Estate with authorization from the Nimba County Superintendent

  4. How can a murderer like my county senator Prince Johnson be a juror in any trial. I saw him eating a human being in Nimba County after boiling the baby…with my won eyes. I, counselor james boayue saw it. Varney Sherman is under trial for defrauding the Liberian government and there are numerous person of dubious past serving as law makers (what a joke. they can barely read or write, most of them!)

    On a daily basis, they’re taking bribes, being paid to write laws,etc. They former speaker, Tyler, is literally a criminal and still serves in Government and he is prosecuting an innocent associate justice on things most of them do EVERYDAY!!

    GOD PLEASE REMOVE THE CURSE FROM THIS COUNTRY!!!!!

    Counselor James Boayue (cell #0888305743) & counselor saye kollie boayue (cell# 0886257214)

    We are former rebels and live near Ganta City on The Joseph Boayue Estate with authorization from the Nimba County Superintendent

    Reply

  5. After the trumped-up allegations against Justice Ja’neh, the Senators will see through this bogus impeachment and totally exonerate Justice Ja’neh.

  6. That’s right…the man (Banks) who basically wrote the 1986 constitution is not an expert on the same constitution…twisted logic…..

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