‘I See The Issues Beyond Justice Ja’neh’

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Cllr. Banks: "I appeared and saw the issues beyond Justice Ja'neh."

— Former Justice Banks

Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks has clarified that, though his appearance at the impeachment trial in the Chambers of the Senate on Thursday, March 21, 2019 was in obedience to a subpoena issued for his appearance, “I appeared and saw the issues beyond Justice Ja’neh.”

The former Associate Justice who currently teaches Constitutional Law at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, was responding to a question by one of the lawyers representing Managers of the House of Representatives, whether his appearance was to testify for the embattled Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh in the ongoing impeachment trial.

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.”

Cllr. Banks, a former chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), said that most of the exams he administers to his students at the Law School are opinions he had written at the Supreme Court; “and the questions to them always are, tell me if or where I have gone wrong in the law… so that the analysis that they make in my opinion helps to build me up; to build the country up; the law up. And where they have convinced me that I was wrong, I have given them the praises and the glory.

“So I have come here not to influence the Senators; only to explain to them the history and the tough process that went into the impeachment provisions of the Constitution, the same as I would explain to anybody, anywhere in relation to any other provision in the Constitution. I have great confidence in the Senators, and they have minds of their own; I believe I owe myself and my country a duty, to see what I see and what went into the making of the Constitution.”

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 relations 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.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice and presiding officer Francis Saye Korkpor last Thursday appointed President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Albert Tugbe Chie, as foreman of the jury, while Bong County Senator Henry Yallah was asked to serve as secretary to the jury.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Philip Banks in absolutely no democracy can THE ACCUSER (the House) and the JURORS (the Senate) be given any constitutional obligation to jointly prescribe a SINGLE rules of procedures while the two institutions – THE IMPEACHER (the House the Accuser) and the COURT OF IMPEACHMENT (the Senate the Jurors/Judges) have SEPARATE VESTED SOLE POWERS.

    The clause about Legislature prescribing rules of procedures in Article 43 IS SIMPLY confirming and implying or again enumerating and emphasizing that no other branch of government can prescribe the rules of procedures for the two separate institutions but the two of the SEPARATE institutions of the Legislature; as stipulated in Article 38 which provides that EACH HOUSE shall prescribe its OWN RULES of PROCEDURES.

    Again, for the ACCUSER (the House) and the JURORS/JUDGES (the Senate) CANNOT be given the power to prescribe RULES of PROCEDURES. For that would not only be unfair and bias against the ACCUSED, BUT ABSOLUTE DICTATORSHIP AND KANGAROO ARRANGEMENT. AND LIBERIA IS A DEMOCRACY. THUS, ARTICLE 38 OBLIGATING EACH HOUSE TO PRESCRIBE ITS OWN RULES.

  2. THE ACCUSER (The House) and the JURORS (the Senate) CANNOT be given power to JOINTLY PRESCRIBE RULES OF PROCEDURES.

  3. Many times I disagree with Dortu-Siboe Doe. But I honestly agree with him on this one that there is no way the House of Representatives which is accusing a public official and the Senate responsible to be the Jury would be expected to come together to craft a document on the rules of procedures for impeachment.

    At least, as he rightly mentioned with article 38 authorizing each House to prescribe its own rules of procedures, neither rationality, reasonablity, or commonsense would support Philip Banks´ claim when such undertaking By the Legislature is not about making or passing laws, but about the dispensation of justice!

    So with the House of Representatives being the one which has accused the given public official (eg. Janeh) and the Senate which is expected to be the Jury in the given impeachment trial, I find Cllr. Philip Banks´ testimony or position that the accuser and the the jury which is the Senate should have together documented a single rules of procedures very bizarre, unconstitutional and indeed untrue!

    And this is because of the constitutional fact that the Constitution has already given in Article 38 of the Liberian Constitution, authority to each House or the accuser and the jury to prescribe their own rules!

    Therefore, I am convinced former Justice Banks is trying to twist or spin the constitution to save the neck of Janeh as the very Cllr. Banks did in 2017 in the Code of Conduct Case.

    Every Liberian knows Cllr. Banks´ actions in that case were simply to save the necks of Briúmskine´s running mate, Sulonteh, and others who as far as the Constitution and the Code of Conduct are concerned had violated the Constitution. hence, were disqualified from contesting the elections.

    I can also still recall how Cllr. Banks twisted the law and to this date, someone who is an American citizen is still the NEC´S Chairman in violation of the Liberian Constitution.

    Therefore, my own advice is that our people. especially the Senate and the presiding Judge in this impea hment trial, discern quickly that:

    (1) Cllr. Banks is a dangerous man acting in bad faith.

    (2) His Cllr. Banks´ claims about article 29 which is about the “enacting style” does not apply here, since;

    (3) That article – article 29 is purely about the joint passage of laws or resolutions, etc. and not about impeachment or impeachment prosecution or justice where according to the Constitution in Article 38 “each House must prescribe their own rules. And so;

    (5) I am also much inclined to agree with you that based upon the rationalities, meaning, and purpose of Article 43 on the Legislature prescribing rules, such clause is from all indications and the letter and spirit of the sole vested powers enjoyed By both powers , an instruction that;

    (6) the prescribed rules for impeachment and the trial on impeachment should neither come from the Judiciary nor the Executive, but from the Legislature – By and through each House prescribing its own rules as stipulated By Article 38 of the Constitution.

    • Article 38 has nothing to do about impeachment…nowhere in Article 38 is impeachment mentioned..Article 38 is stating the normal function of the Legislature:

      Here is Article 38..where does it say anything about impeachment:

      Article 38

      Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order, and with the

      concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for

      cause. Each House shall establish its own committees and sub-committees;

      provided, however, that the committees on revenues and appropriations shall

      consist of one member from each County. All rules adopted by the Legislature

      shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this

      Constitution.

      Article 43 is the only article pertaining to impeachment and the procedural set forth to conduct an impeachment.

      Do not conflict Article 38 and 43, they are speaking about two different processes.

    • Leaving the technical aspect of impeachment procedural aside, can you tell what crime Justice Ja’neh committed to be impeached for?

  4. If you had any knowledge about the subjective and objective theories of constitutional interpretation, or at least, the contextual – harmonization type of argument you would not make such statement about “article 38 got nothing to do with impeachment” when article 38 deals with the modus operandi of the very institutions which have SOLE JURISDICTION on impeachment and the very constitutional concept of prescribing rules of procedures.

  5. Just show me where Article 38 relates to impeachment…38 is very plain ” Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause.” This is about the day to day rules of the Legislature and not about impeachment.

    Impeachment is a very special situation which calls for a very different set of rules….that’s why we have Article 43..only Article 43 speaks to the issue of impeachment. Stop confusing yourself you are no lawyer.

    • Again, your thoughts are such because you have absolutely no idea about the course : Interpreting Statutes; and that I am a seasoned lawyer with expertise in Interpreting Statutes, the Law of Public Order, the Law of Treaties, and Corporate Law.

      Now, it seems you have never read the counts against impeached Janeh. But be as it may:

      In response to your inquiry about Janeh:
      The better scholarship about impeachment is that impeachment does not necessarily have to be invoked by criminal liability, but simply that which any reasonable person might consider abusive and wrong on the part of a judge.

      Never conflate impeachability and criminality!
      The thought that only criminal offenses are impeachable is deeply and profoundly wrong! Such thinking misunderstands the Constitution of Liberia, Liberian history, and the nature of criminal law in important ways.

      • Dortu-Siboe Doe,
        Flomo appears to have a better argument and education on where the constitution stands as far as the current impeachment saga in going on in the Liberian Legislature.

        Article 38, restated by Flomo specifically applies to rules governance and operation of the legislature. What does “interpreting statutes”; “law of public order”, “the law of treaties” and “corporate law” have to do with this current conversation? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, except that Mr. Dotu-Siboe Doe is attempting to make himself seem relevant and important – a big problem with some Liberians (like you, MR. DOE) who obtain a little bit of education – yes I had to get personal!!!

        I am not a student on constitutional matters. I am a behaviorist by education and training.

        It will help a great whole lot if you stuck to educating and providing positive, thus constructive feedbacks on the ongoing legal issues in the legislature and the country. In this way, many law students in Liberia as well as ordinary Liberians may become enlightened and educated on the constitution, if you really are what you’re claiming.

        • G.Philip Siaway, AKA Flomo Smith,, do not gallop into topics at which you are absolutely an ignorant. What proves your ignorance is your rant that this topic has nothing to do with interpreting statutes, when this is exactly what the subject matter is about.

          If you are really whatever you claim to be, confine yourself in that corner. For legal matters are for intellectuals or learned individuals who are scholars of Jurisprudence, and have the intellectual ability and professional competence to advance arguments AND NOT JUST FOR LAYMEN WHO SPEW RANTS AS IS THE CASE HERE WITH YOU.

          As you can see, our argument continues to be > whether on the Senate=s floor during an impeachment trial or within a court within the Judiciary, be it WITHIN AN ADVERSARIAL OR ACCUSATORIAL SYSTEM, THE ACCUSER (the House) and the JURORS (the Senate) cannot<

          (1) be given any constitutional obligation to jointly prescribe a SINGLE rules of procedures while

          (2) the two institutions – THE IMPEACHER (the House the Accuser) and the COURT OF IMPEACHMENT (the Senate the Jurors/Judges) have SEPARATE VESTED SOLE POWERS. For

          (3) clause one of article 38 of the Liberian Constitution authorizes both houses to adopt its own rules of procedure, and that the prescription of rules by the Legislature mentioned in Article 43 is simply the stipulation that rules of procedures can emanate from no other branch but absolutely from the separate crafting and separate adoption via the constitutionally vested sole powers of each House of the Legislature.

          You are not a lawyer. And so it is not surprising you have no idea about presenting your argument or any knowledge about THE DISCIPLINE OF INTERPRETING STATUTES OR CONTEXTUAL HARMONIZATION VIZ CONSTITUTIONAL CLAUSES.

          Ours has inter alia always been and continues to be to debate and educate. And we are known for that.

      • First of all I do not care if you are a so-called seasoned lawyer who doesn’t know the interpretation of Article 38.

        Let me break it down for you if your comprehension is a bit impaired:

        This is:

        Article 38

        Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause. Each House shall establish its own committees and sub-committees;
        provided, however, that the committees on revenues and appropriations shall consist of one member from each County.

        All rules adopted by the Legislature shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this
        Constitution.

        So Article 38 clearly states that the rules to be adopted by each house will apply to members expulsion, establishing committees and sub-committees and specially mandated that revenues and appropriations committees shall have one member from each county……how can this be construed as applying to impeachment when impeachment is not mentioned in the article.

        Of course I did not say that only criminal offenses are impeachable…I only ask what crime Justice Ja’neh committed to be impeached….it looks like you are not very good at interpreting stated words:

        Article 71 clearly states ” They (Judges) may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved 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.”

        So it was alleged that Justice Ja’neh stole land from the old lady and he also got kickback from the gas companies to send the case to the full bench and there were all lies…so where is the bad behavior, crime Justice Ja’neh committed to be impeached?

  6. Flomo Smith, BESIDES THE FACT, YOU HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT LAW, NOT TO TALK ABOUT UNDERSTANDING AND INTERPRETING THE LAW, YOU HAVE NO LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP OF IMPEACHMENT.

    What proves this is your laughable layman question about @how can this be construed as applying to impeachment when impeachment is not mentioned in the [email protected]!!!

    Ha Ha Ha Ha. Flomo, in law or Constitutional Law, for that matter, a diction does not have to be mentioned in a given article to be applicable to the given matter or issue. A CLAUSICAL XYLEM OR CONTEXTUAL LIGAMENT MAKES POSSIBLE OR NECESSARY THE APPLICABILITY OF A GIVEN MATTER OR DICTION NOT METIONED IN WHICHEVER GIVEN ARTICLE!!!

    For example, the word impeachment IS NOT mentioned in the due process clause. Impeachment is not mentioned in the supremacy clause, etc. etc. But they all have constitutional xylems and ligaments, and may have CONTEXTUAL HARMONIZATIONS in most articles. As we mentioned above, you are not a lawyer. And you cannot be one. Stick to that which you are.

    Here you are here AGAIN absolutely unable to grasp what is impeachment, not to talk about the actual purpose of impeachment. Hence, you come up with such laughable whines in your last two paragraphs. What an argument!!! Ha Ha Ha Ha!!! You are not a lawyer. And you cannot be one. Stick to that which you are.

    • You can take the cow to river but can’t force it to drink…Wallow in your ignorance…..this impeachment was based on ignorance and that’s why Justice Ja’neh will be exonerated by the Senate

  7. A wise person once said, “Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.”

    Chapter V Article 43
    States, “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”

    It is the same as saying, after the 1986 Constitution was created, the Legislature was constitutionally responsible for crafting all set rules/procedures appertaining to all impeachable offenses by all public officials….(not targeted officials) in conformity with the requirements of due process of the law.

    However, since the crafting of the 1986 Constitution, the procedure for impeachment proceedings in conformity with the requirements for due process of law was never adhered to by the Legislature. The procedure for impeachment was hastily implemented by this current legislature solely out of necessity: recently crafted solely for the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh from office.

    This whole impeachment proceeding could be considered an ex post facto case (after the fact): the impeachment proceedings/procedure was introduced/crafted by this current legislature after Justice Ja’neh was already allegedly charged for violating Article 71 of the 1986 Constitution.

    Article 71 States:
    The Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of
    subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature 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.

    This case could set an unconstitutional precedent (because it was done incorrectly) and therefore, Justice Ja’neh impeachment case could be challenged in the Supreme Court for violating his due process of law.
    I believe this is the same interpretation of the law that Cllr. Banks was making reference to: as there is no set prescribed procedure for impeachment proceedings to follow since the implementation of the 1986 Constitution.

    For political expediency, it seems this current Legislature recently trumped up an overdue prescribed procedure for impeachment proceedings solely for Justice Ja’neh removal from office. In these current legislative proceedings, there is no uniformity in the procedure for impeachment proceedings to govern all public officials which makes it unconstitutional as Cllr. Banks alluded to.

    Remember Lawmakers, “Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.”

  8. Alpha Corneh, etc.etc., have you seen the reaction from the ECOWAS COURT on Philip Banks’ false and misleading claim that a” verdict of removal or conviction from the Impeachment trial could be challenged in court.”????? These rascals naively referred to as “expert”, “this and that”, “Pres LNBA” etc.etc. are simply A bunch of corrupt rascals lying to their own people.

  9. Mr. Conneh, impeachments begins in the Legislature and ENDS in the Legislature. Janeh´s lawyers are aware of this fact. And that is why they took onto such false-hope about an appeal to the ECOWAS Court. But the ECOWAS Court has wasted no time in telling them the reality and truth.

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