House ‘Throws Out’ Supreme Court Stay Order Justice Ja’neh’s Impeachment

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Speaker Bhofal Chambers in discussion with Reps. J. Fonati Koffa, Acarous M. Gray and Thomas Fallah

Members of the House of Representatives have ‘thrown out’ the Writ of Prohibition filed before Justice-in-Chambers, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, on the impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh

On Tuesday, August 14, in its 48th day sitting, the House voted to ‘throw out’ the Writ of Prohibition through a motion proffered by Montserrado County District #16 Representative Dixon W. Seboe, who is also a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to review and investigate the Bill of Impeachment as well as the write-up of the Impeachment Proceedings.

This means the House has resolved to continue with impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh and will not attend the August 18 Prohibition Hearing before her Honor Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, prayed for by Justice Ja’neh’s lawyer, Arthur Johnson.

The motion of reconsideration put forth by Nimba County District # 5 Representative Samuel Kogar was defeated. Rep. Kogar inplored his colleagues to accept the Writ of Prohibition and honor the August 18th  Prohibition Hearing.

But one of the campaigners for the Bill of Impeachment against Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh argued that the Writ of Prohibition from the Justice-in-Chamber is a gross insubordination to the Legislature, because the First Branch of Government has the constitutional right and authority to remove the Chief Justice and Associate Justices upon impeachment and conviction based on proven misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.”

The House of Representatives resumed working sessions yesterday, Tuesday, August 14, after a three-week break to observe the country’s 172nd Independence Day celebration, which marked the closure of its first Independence break on Thursday, July 19, giving them leave for 25 days.

Timing is Important?

With less than 16 days to the Annual Break of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate on the 31st of August, and five working session days, many are wondering if the impeachment proceedings will be concluded and signed by at least 49 Representatives constituting 2/3 majority of the House of Representatives to be forwarded to the Liberian Senate for action.

It may be recalled that, last week, Justice-in-Chamber Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh issued a Writ of Prohibition on the impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh.

But two consulting lawyers in the offices of the Legal Section and Legal Drafting of the House of Representatives, names withheld, said over the weekend they briefed the lawmakers re-emphasizing that Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh’s decision last week to stay the impeachment process of her colleague Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, until the Supreme Court can fully review its merit is erroneous.

The lawyers said the action of Justice Yuoh has created an embarrassing situation because the matter has yet to proceed to the House of Senate for hearing.

The House’s lawyers further said the Justice-in-Chamber’s decision would affect Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and the entire Bench, were the House of Representatives to go ahead with Ja’neh’s impeachment proceedings.

The lawyers argued that the House of Representatives have the authority to suspend their rules and appoint an Ad Hoc Committee. Their position runs contrary to that of Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers who maintained that House Speaker Bhofal Chambers violated Section 57.3 of the Rules and Procedures of the House of Representatives by constituting a Special Ad Hoc Committee and immediately forwarding Ja’neh’s impeachment bill to the committee.

That section, Ja’neh’s lawyers argued, confers exclusive jurisdiction on the House Committee on the Judiciary to hear, among other things, all matters relating to judicial proceedings, civil and criminal.

Section 57.3 of the House’s Rules says: “COMMITTEE ON  JUDICIARY: To  which  shall  be referred all proposed legislations, petitions, memorials and other matters relating to the work of the committee, as follows: a. The administration of justice in the Republic of Liberia;  b. Judicial proceedings, civic, and criminal, generally; c. Constitutional amendment (s) and Constitutional matters; d. The Courts and judges of the Republic of Liberia; e. Repeal, amendments, revision and codification of status an d other legal matters; f. Prisoner, prison houses and prison reforms; g. Protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies; I. Bankruptcy, mutiny, espionage and counterfeiting; j. Inter-and intra-country boundary disputes; k. Courts martial law and military law; l. Civic rights and code of ethics and conduct; and m. the Liberia National Police and private security.”

It may be recalled, the 8-man ad hoc Committee was appointed on Tuesday, July 17 to review and investigate the Bill of Impeachment as well as the write-up of the Impeachment Proceedings. They are expected to report this week, if by then the Ad Hoc Committee isn’t dissolved.

The committee is chaired by Gbarpolu County District# 2 Representative Karnie Wesso and co-chaired by Bong County District #5 Representative Edward Karfiah.

Others are Representatives Dickson Seboe of District #16, in Montserrado County; Jeremiah Koung of District #1, Nimba County;  Dr. Isaac Roland of District #3, Maryland County;  Clarence Gahr of District #5, Margibi County; and Rustonlyn S. Dennis of District#4, Montserrado County.

The establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee followed a communication of the Bill of Impeachment from Representatives Thomas Fallah and Acarous Gray. On July 17, 2018, a petition signed by the acting chairman of the CDC in the House of Representatives for Montserrado County, Representatives Thomas P. Fallah of District #5, and  Acarous Gray of District #8, a staunch member of the CDC, called for Justice Ja’neh’s impeachment.

The two CDC lawmakers argued that Justice Ja’neh should be impeached, ousted and removed from the Supreme Court of Liberia on grounds of “proven misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, fraud, misuse of power and corruption.” 

21 COMMENTS

  1. Government is not for boys, but men. Granted lawyers of the House of Representative have a counter argument to this petition filed by Ja’neh’s lawyers, where do they argue it? Is it in the street, their chambers or in the court ? Certainly, those arguments are only befitting before a court of records, in this case, the Justice in Chambers of the Supreme Court of Liberia. No practicing or experienced Lawyer in this country will advised his/her client to do otherwise.
    The reasons why it is imperative for the House of Representative, a sub-set of the Legislature to appear by their lawyers is to show to the ordinary Liberian that this is a Country of Laws, not strong or irresponsible men.
    The HOR constituted a committee of partisans from one political party(CDC), who you think in his/her right mind, will submit to such a committee for determination of a matter, instead of the proper channel of the Judicial Committee? Let the CDC shoot itself in the foot. The present economy hardship in our lives is not only economics, it is also political; almost every investors are sitting on the fence watching to see whether this party has the pedigree to manage this country in the short(one year) or medium run(three years) before they can venture their resources into Liberia; but this whole process is a distraction, and the international community is watching to see the outcome to determine whether this regime mean business or itis another fiasco. C’dians should be the last to cause this distraction.
    Thanks.

  2. I would begrudgingly side with the House of Representatives in this debate on the basis of principle because the Supreme Court doesn’t have the constitutional authority to interfere with the proceedings of the Legislature. It’s unheard of in a democracy, at least in the United States. What if the Legislature were to interfere with a proceeding at the Supreme Court? Would that be acceptable? I guess not. It is the Supreme Court that has created a constitutional crisis, not the House of Representatives. I believe the House made the right decision to proceed with its constitutional duty, whatever that is.

    • And young man what is the constitutional duties of the Liberian Supreme Court ? One , to review the law of the land. Two , to settle dispute , whether be it constitutional dispute or legal dispute. Three , to protect the basic constitution rights of all Liberians . There is no where stated that the Supreme Court wishes to deny the House of its constitutional duty to impeach. What the Supreme Court is saying is there is a case before Supreme Court concerning the law ! And it is their duty to review the law concerning the constitutionality of the law . So hold on and appear before us in the cooperative spirit of our political three branches and help us with questions and answers to review the law . No way , says the House. It is our constitutional duty to impeach . Does hold on means to members of the House that they can not still impeach once the Supreme Court has reviewed the law that they can not carrying out their constitutional duty to impeach ? Is that your understanding ? You mentioned the United States as the United States Supreme Court won’t do that . But President Nixon upon his impeachment process ran to the Supreme Court of the United States in his efforts to stop the impeachment process by refusing to hand over the tapes that the US House of representatives were asking for to impeach him . It was after the US Supreme Court ruled against Nixon did the US House of Representatives charged Nixon with obstruction of justice, leading to his resignation. Note that it was: After The US Supreme Court Ruled Against Nixon Did The US House of Representatives charged Nixon With Obstruction Of Justice , and not before while a case was before the Supreme Court ! What is the Liberian House of Representatives afraid of to have the Supreme Court to review the law with members of the House through questions and answers ? They still have their power to impeach once the law of the land is reviewed by the Liberian Supreme Court or they just want to bring about any kind of charge and railroad it in disregard to our constitutional principles of cooperative democracy between the three branches of government , commonly referred to as check and balance . As for the name with held lawyer , he is worried about the embarrassment the stay order has caused the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and not about what the law has to say as a lawyer. In that country personalities and power are always associated with every political and legal making decisions . And so we are where we happened to be . My way or not way . It is not about who has the power to do anything, but it is about the cooperative spirit of the three branches of our government to see that the principle of our supreme laws are cleared and workable for the betterment of the Liberian state . The House has it constitutional duty to impeach, no doubt about that, but so is the Liberian Supreme Court with its constitutional

      • Mr. Davis, WHEN THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE has:

        (1) begun proceedings for formal charge or charges for prosecution of the one charged by THE HOUSE towards subsequent or possible conviction and removal from office BY THE SENATE of the one impeached by THE HOUSE, there is ABSOLUTELY:

        (2) NO REDRESS NOR REMEDY FROM OR BY THE SUPREME COURT for anyone or institution viz the constitutional duties of the Liberian Supreme Court; whether “to review the law of the land, to settle dispute , whether be it constitutional dispute or legal dispute, or to protect the basic constitution rights of all Liberians;!!!” THE SUPREME COURT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO JURISDICTION AT THAT JUNCTURE!

        THE HOUSE does the impeachment, and THE SENATE does the conviction and removal! AGAIN THERE IS NO REDRESS AFTER SUCH ACTIONS ON THE PART OF THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE. THIS IS WHY EVEN IF THE SENATE MAY NOT FIND THE CULPRIT GUILTY FOR CONVICTION, THE CULPRIT SHALL BE ACQUITTED, BUT HE OR SHE REMAINS IMPEACHED, DESPITE THE FACT HE OR SHE IS NOT REMOVED FROM OFFICE!

        This is what happened to Bill Clinton. He remained impeached but not removed from office, since THE SENATE DID NOT FIND HIM GUILTY FOR CONVICTION! Accordingly Clinton remained President, but became one of the few impeached Presidents of the USA!

        Mr. Davis, knowledge of the law and its understanding and interpretation is not as reading and understanding tabloid and yellow journalism stories from some editor or news outlet! All power is inherent in the people!!!

        MR. DAVIS, MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THAT!!! THE ACTUAL SUPREME COURT IS THE PEOPLE, INSTITUTIONALIZED AS THE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR AND THE LEGISLATURE IN GENERAL; DESPITE THE FACT THE CONSTITUTION IS NECESSARILY SILENT ON THAT STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL REALITY! THIS IS WHAT THOSE UNSCRUPULOUS ONES CALLING THEMSELVES JUSTICES DO NOT KNOW OR ARE PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW!!!

        Until then, this is Chief Dortu-Siboe Doe cruising from the banks of the Cavallas to the towering peaks of the mighty Wologisi for lectures at the Manawulu academia!!!

  3. I don’t really get what’s going on there in Liberia about impeachment of Justice Ja’neh. I haven”t read the facts, but instead bits and pieces which I haven”t yet understood. I can”t find the original story/stories to comment on. I”m responding to Gbada J. Flomo”s article above. I tend to agree with him especially if the committee set up by HOR were partisans from CDC -The Ruling Party, how do they expect justice to prevail? Like Mr. Flomo said, there are too many problems that need to be solve in Liberia ie proper education, health care, electricity, water,( basic needs) and jobs for the people etc My advise to those who want to bring impeachment proceedings on the associate justice, should first see about the well-being of the Liberian people by doing the aforementioned things. President Weah needs to put a halt to things that will make his gov” t look bad. Please don”t allow what happened in Liberia the last 12 years (fighting one another be a repeat. I”ii like to borrow a few lyrics from South Africa national anthem Bless oh Lord our country Liberia. May she waken from her sleep. Oh Lord we beseech you now.

  4. James, I commented on your reply and the question you posed concerning Nixon in the story captioned, ” Youh’s Stay Order on Janeh’s Impeachment under scrutiny by Lawyers” published on August 13. Nixon never sought the court to stop the impeachment proceedings. He could not and the court would not have. He went to court claiming that the document requested by the House is of Executive Privilege, and as such could not be turned over. It was never about the legality of the House in carrying out the impeachment proceedings. I’ve posted below my response to your comment in the related story on this case where you raised the issue about Nixon (see below):

    “James. I will respond to your comment, specifically on the Nixon’s impeachment proceedings, and only because there’s this understanding out there that he was impeached, and hope it encourages students at the nation’s law schools in their debates on these issues. As such, my short answer is, Nixon was never impeached. The House Judiciary Committee sent three Articles of Impeachment to the full House, but Nixon resigned before the House held the hearings. Although if he had not resigned, he would’ve been impeached. The Supreme Court’s holding had to do with Nixon’s refusal to turn over tapes that he deemed were protected under Executive privilege under the Constitution. It was never a decision about the constitutional authority of the House to impeach. Nixon was not challenging the procedures and processes of the House in Court. The Court would not have entertained it, as it would’ve had no constitutional provision to establish its jurisdiction over such a petition. And the Nixon’s lawyers were much too smart to have proceeded with such an act that would’ve been laughable.”

    I further elaborated on other issues that were raised in that story to compare the Stay Order against the President to the Stay Order against the House. See my response below also:

    “The Stay order against the President was within the Court’s authority because the markers for constitutional review by the Court are present in that case.”

    “In this Stay Order, the Constitution is very clear on the authority of the Legislative Branch in impeachment cases. Also just a note, a writ of prohibition is issued by a superior court to a lower court. It is not applicable here.”

  5. This is going to be a test-case for our legal system in Liberia, especially for law students. I believe and though our three branches are co-equal, notwithstanding each has a carved out prerogative for checking the others supported by the law. Reason why, for example, the legislative branch can cite a functionary of the executive branch for quizzing on the implementation and specifics of a given undertaking. Similarly, the judiciary branch has the authority (I think) to place in check the action of any of the other two. As for those who believe otherwise, one wonders what would be the “checking” capacity of the judiciary if the legislature does not fall within the scope of that “check and balance” purview of the judiciary? In other words, the legislature believes it has the authority to “check” the functions of even high court justices, but that court does not have reciprocal power to check its functions? Lastly, what could be the meaning of “court of last resort,” when this impeachment proceeding is tantamount to relitigating a decision of the high court? This is why I believe this case is a test case!

    • Mr. Snyder, the “court been of last resort” is simply a general or relative principle or stipulation, and in no way absolute to have any legament or effect on impeachment which is not necessarily a dispute, case, or controvery. The Supreme Court is only a court of last resort when it comes to cases, controversy, or disputes. An impeahment, though with relatively some formalities found in court or the Supreme Court’s proceedings, is notba case, controversy, nor a dispute. It is calling into question the integrity of a judge or a president as a result of his or her misconduct or bad behavior. And this is absolutely the province and jurisdiction of THE LEGISLATURE! ALL POWER IS INHERENT IN THE PEOPLE. NOT THE COURT! THE LEGISLATURE IS THE PEOPLE INSTITUTIONALIZED!!

    • Mr. Snyder, the clause: ALL POWER IS INHERENT IN THE PEOPLE supplants the clause “the Supreme Court is a court of last resort” in impeachment proceedings. THE HOUSE OR THE LEGISLATURE IS THE PEOPLE INDTITUTIONALIZED!!! Hence an impeahment proceeding is beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

      Accordingly, the “court of last resort” clausr is limited to cases, controversies, and disputes.

      For Impeachment is neither a case, controversy, or a dispute, despite the implementation of the due process clause, the Chief Justice constitutionally mandated to masquerade as a Senate’s Judge during the senate’s impeachment proceedings of the judge’s or president’s whose integrity is been called into question, and so charged by THE HOUSE of misconduct, and bad behavior.

  6. I pondered how to comment without using too many legal terminologies. I think I succeeded below.

    The unwarranted and premature Stay Order in the impeachment proceedings is not a good example for studying the principle of Checks and Balances. The Stay Order of the President’s appointment to the Maritime Agency does provide all the constitutional markers and will be a great example in studying this principle. This Stay Order has

    Note folks, the principle of checks and balance is not a tit-for-tat equal reciprocal principle amongst the three branches of government. It is however a core principle of a democracy where each branch has some measure of influence over the other branches with the ability to block the actions of the other branches. These measures are specifically defined in the Constitution, with language that identify the triggers that shows how the branch derives its jurisdiction in a specific case and when and how it can exercise that check.

    With that understanding, let’s dive into the jurisdiction of the Court relying on the current issue discussed here. When a petition is filed in a Court, the Court has to first determine its jurisdiction to hear the case. Jurisdiction simply means the petition is valid legally, meets all the Court’s procedures for filing and this is the appropriate court of jurisprudence to adjudicate the case.

    From all media reports on the impeachment proceedings, the House has not even started the impeachment proceedings. The House has the sole authority to draft their own procedures and processes on impeachment, which is not a trial of the accused. To clarify further what has happened with the issuance of the Stay Order, it would be akin to instructing the President to appear before the House or Senate or the Court and explain how he vetted the recently nominated Senator to fill the vacancy left open when Justice Banks retired. Neither the Legislature or the Judiciary have any jurisdiction to ascertain the process the President follows in nominating Justices or who he selects to serve in his cabinet. Note, jurisdiction of the Legislature to impact the President’s selection through the “advised and consent” state. And the Constitution clearly defines these steps.

    The Court does have authority to check the other branches. But it has to first have jurisdiction over what it intends to check. In this impeachment proceedings (note, I said proceedings and not trial), the court did not establish its jurisdiction. If one went to a traffic court and try to file a petition to obtain a summon against someone for murder, the traffic court will lack the jurisdiction to issue a summon against the defendant. Or, let say a driver went to a traffic court to file a petition that the court should throw out a traffic ticket that he believes a police officer is in the process of issuing him next week. The traffic court judge will have no jurisdiction to entertain such frivolous petition and will throw out the petition. And that’s what Justice in-Chambers should’ve done. She failed to test for due process of law constitutional markers. It’s not even about how she interpreted the law. Even, first year law school students are expected to grasp this principle.

    On the result of the hearings and potential trial, if Justice Janeh’s lawyers present their case we’ll, there won’t be a conviction by the Senate. The Lawyers efforts should be geared toward influencing House Members to vote against impeachment if they believe the high bar hasn’t been crossed.

  7. Mr. James Davis, THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE calling into question the integrity of a judge of the Supreme Court charged by THE HOUSE of misconduct and very bad behavior IS NOT as a dispute, case, or controversy, to be settled by the Supreme Court. This is impeachment, far far beyond out of the province of the Supreme Court, and far far beyond its jurisdiction. This is what you do not understand. These corrupt judges of the Supreme Court think they are smart and powerful. But they have now realized THE HOUSE is wiser and more powerful.

  8. There seem to be 3 impeachment proceedings initiated out of the stay order on a male Justice of the Supreme Court bench. This female Justice should be impeached for interfering into the in-process of the billing function of the Legislature. She should have waited until the completion of the legislation before questioning the law made in constitutional enactment. (2) The Speaker of the House should be impeached for enhancing an Executive function when he tried to cite the public into destroying the base of the economy by a replacement of the Liberian currency for United States Dollars without its trade worth. It is inferred that he was trying to help print the the United States dollars without having enough Liberian dollars to back up the United States dollars we might have. He lacks Liberian Dollars and might have tried to intrude in the special right solely a responsibility of the Executive branch of the Liberian Government. The Speaker of the house does not mint or print currencies. (3) If it is true that the Justice in question on the bench committed these acts and the Chief Justice is aware of his actions but rather than get involved sent the female Justice for a stay to hide the act of jurisprudence of the law from the Liberian nation and people, the Justice should be impeached. Judges are not elected to office. They are appointed by the Executive and confirmed by the House. As long as Branches of Government try to steal power from each other these issues will continue to arise. So as a people we must stay within the limits of our democratic functions. Liberia has three branches of Government equally separated in constitutional powers. Do not answer me. Tell the Liberian people as a people. Gone to silence.

  9. Is it because there are too many docial problems that need attention and we must condone wrongs in the name of let’s leave it because it will stall our march to progress? The administering transparent justice is pivotal to socio-economic, political development and peace. We continue to demand justice against those who violated and abused the rights of prople during the war but at the same time we don’t want for people in to be given their day in court for abuse of power. Isn’t it hypocrisy? These were the same vices perpetrated by people in power that culminated into the civil war which destroyed every sphere of our life. I have no doubt, that the proceedings will go unhindered and the accused will be given due process to exonerate himself from the allegation.

  10. And as a good Civil lesson, many think the Court is the only branch with the exclusive authority to protect individual rights. But that’s not a belief that’s is derived from the language of the Constitution. In fact, the Legislative Branch is the best defender of individual rights.

    In the U.S., as messier as Congress’s deliberations sometimes become, their workings are more transparent and realistic. With few exceptions, where the Court stepped in to protect the rights of certain group, like same sex marriage, when it comes to
    protecting individual rights—Congress, far more than the President or the Supreme Court, has defended the rights of blacks, women, children, Native Americans, and religious liberty.

    A study into the legal history of the U.S over individual rights, shows the court has frequently failed at many critical junctures where Congress has acted to protect rights.

    In practice, the Legislative Branch is the most powerful of the three branches. It is made up of the people’s representatives. Their rule making authority far exceeds that of the Court’s judicial review and President’s veto authorities. They can override a veto and can make new laws that can render invalid a law the Court reviews and rules on (i.e., if a law no longer exists, then the Court’s review and interpretation of it is voided).

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