Ja’neh Links Full Bench of Supreme Court to Oil Deal Withdrawal

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Justice Ja'neh takes oath as witness at the impeachment trial

In his cross-examination testimony on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at the Senate on Capitol Hill, embattled Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammad Ja’neh told Jurors (Senators) that all five Supreme Justices, including the Chief Justice, approved and signed the document decided by the government and oil companies involved in the Road Fund Case to withdraw the matter from the High Court.

He then wondered, “why is Justice Ja’neh the only one on trial?”

Justice Ja’neh went through the third day of cross-examination under intense non-stop seven hours grilling from the Senators (jurors), especially from Senators H. Varney Sherman and Augustine Chea, who used more than two hours of that period to cross-examine Ja’neh.

He defended that his action to send the Road Fund case petition to the full Supreme Court Bench was in line with the Constitution, and the function of a Justice in Chambers purely based on constitutional controversy. Ja’neh emphasized that questions of how much money was already collected through the Road Fund project was not part of his decision to seek the full bench attention.

He said to even reawaken that decision by the Supreme Court, and include it in the current impeachment proceedings, is a violation of the Constitution, which he said stipulates that any legal decision taken by the Supreme Court and lower courts cannot be called into questioned or revised by any of the other two branches of the Constitution. “The same privilege is accorded to legislators, while performing their functions in Chambers.”

Arguing for the House of Representatives that filing a petition seeking a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court was intended to bring the two branches at loggerhead, and as such, it constitutes a ground for impeachment, Justice Ja’neh said: “I believe that any Liberian who feels aggrieved is at liberty to seek judicial redress, including members of the judiciary. I know no law that prevents a person from doing so, or that doing so constitutes a misconduct.”

Asked by Senator Oscar Cooper whether one can impeach a Justice or Justices of the Supreme Court for their opinion and constitute action of impeachment, especially with respect to the Road Fund Case, Justice Ja’neh maintained that the impression he is getting now is that when an honest citizen of Liberia files a petition before a court of law questioning the conduct of the Legislature, you must be very careful in even ordering a conference.

“Under the Liberian Constitution, when a judge refuses to issue habeas corpus, it damages who will be brought before that judge . Under the Constitution, any conduct, action taken by a judge in the normal course of his duty is not a subject of review or sanction by any authority in this Republic. Those who wrote our Constitution were of the view that when you begin to hold judges for what they say or do, then the independence required to do this job as contemplated by the Constitution is effectively removed,” Ja’neh told the hearing.

He added, “if we don’t like the law, we change it, but as long as it remains in the book, they are the laws of Liberia.”

Asked again as to whether the Legislature has the power to retry a case that has already been decided upon by the entire Bench of the Supreme Court, like in the case of the Anne Yancy Constance land case, Justice Ja’neh explained that the law in this jurisdiction is that a matter decided by even a Magisterial Court, Justice of the Peace Court “which courts are at the lowest echelon of our judicial system cannot be a proper subject of a review by either the Executive Branch, or the Legislative Branch of the government; not to talk about a decision rendered by the honorable Supreme Court, that is the law.”

Once the Supreme Court has decided a matter, whether it is by a motion to dismiss, or a review of the records on the merit to the extend that the rights of the parties have been determined, Justice Ja’neh maintained the matter is decided, and that case is closed. “And therefore, there can be no authority by any branch of government to reopen that case.”

“Those who wrote our Constitution had good reasons for putting it in the way they did it. In our court system judges, who have the same ranking, circuit judges for example, whatever a colleague does in terms of rendering a decision or taking an action, even if that action was wrong, you as a circuit judge of that same ranking, will have no authority to review that action or decision. There is no law in this jurisdiction that gives the Executive branch or any other branch the authority to review what has been done by the honorable Supreme Court of Liberia. If we were to allow that, then we will only be welcoming chaos.”

Justice Ja’neh has been finally discharged from the stand, while the proceedings continues.

Meanwhile Retired Associate Justice Philip A. Z.Banks, is yet to be called on the stand as ‘expert witness’ for the respondent.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I am having a problem with the question and answer in reference to the Anne Yancy Constance case. The question to Justice Janeh was not the appropriated question for the case. There was a particular court involved, the Probate Court. The lawyers of Justice Janeh intentionally did not taking the case back to the Probate Court for rectification after it was discovered that Mrs Anne Constance was alive and first in line to Administrative Powers of her husband’s estate. No other court should have handled the case. Without the Probate Court being involved in correcting the error made by that court, it was indication of intent to defraud the widow of Mr. Constance. Justice Janeh is a lawyer and he should have known the procedural error. Liberians let us be real and honest to one another and do what is right. That case can not be closed as long as it did not follow the proper court procedure of returning the case to the Probate Court to correct the error. It was the court that did not follow due diligence or verification to determine who should have Administrative Powers of Mr. Constance Estate. I am saying that Mrs. Anne Constance is an injured person according to law.

  2. The widows in Liberia are taking legal cases to ECOWAS court for justice. Mrs. Nancy Doe did the same and it appears that Mrs. Constance may have to do the same. The Justice System has failed her. There were two processes done in error intentionally or unintentionally to the widow. The first error was, with the Probate Court not doing due diligence by verifying if Mr Constance had a wife and the whereabouts of this woman. The second error of the Justice system was the court allowing the error made to be handled by a different court that rendered judgement in favor of Justice Janeh. The Constance case began with an error made by the Probate Court, which needed to be corrected, instead it was taken to another court as another case. Yes indeed, judgement was brought against Mrs. Constance as is usually done in our justice system with a jury and lots of bribery to pass around. We need the system to dispense justice for the poor and the rich alike. Take the case back to the Probate Court for the correction of who is the rightful Administrator of the Constance Estate and start the case from there. This is not rocket Science, it is common sense.

    • Anthony – I don’t know where to begin but I’ll keep it short by saying the laws in Liberia regarding transfer of real estate is very murky and weak. Any unscrupulous family member can get a crooked lawyer to file a petition with a probate court to gain control of property by getting the judge to issue a Letter of Administration. It’s that easy. The judge’s decision is based solely on the affidavit of the petitioner without an iota of corroborating evidence that this person is legitimate and is authorized by the family. I had a personal experience where my older sister elevated herself to Administrator of our estate without the knowledge of me and some of my siblings. That should have never been allowed by the probate court. The court should have demanded proof that other family members agreed to make her Administrator of the estate but it didn’t. With the Letter of Administration, she was able to arbitrarily appropriate land to some family members without the consent of others, and also transacts business with an NGO without the consent of all stakeholders of the estate. Her conduct was criminal because it was fraudulent. The Legislature needs to change the law to make it difficult for these kinds of things to happen.

  3. Janeh, the issue is not about “court”. Its about a judge! – Judge Kabineh Janeh! Do not confuse yourself thinking you can deceive others! In other words, Janeh, yes, Given the circumstance, or context, “any legal decision taken by the Supreme Court and lower courts cannot be called into questioned or revised by any of the other two branches of the Constitution.”

    But indeed, Janeh, any legal decision or illegal decision taken by a judge as a result of abusive or wrongful drives (as is the case with you), MUST BE CALLED INTO QUESTION! So, not so fast. That stipulation to which you are referencing is no immunity for the abusive or wrongful doings or conducts of a judge. The issue is not about “court”. Its about a judge! Do not confuse yourself thinking you can deceive others! The full bench got involved after you had carried out, your corrupt behavior, And this is what has been called into question leading to your impeachment, and towards your conviction and ultimate removal.

  4. What are you talking about sir, the opinion or decision of a judge cannot be review outside of an appeal or the judge cannot be punished because of it by the executive or legislature as it appears to be in this case, judges can how ever be held for act of corruption proven in a court. This is no case here, the Justice will be acquitted.

    • Kai, this is one of the counts on which corrupt Janeh shall be convicted. But even if we may decide to pretend arguendo that he could not be convicted on that count; I have gone over those counts. And the evidence are so much against Janeh. Hence, I can tell you with all candidates, that rascal shall be convicted and removed!

  5. It makes sense to clear one’s name. By taking the stand and being queried by the Liberian senate, Ja’neh is doing just that.

    Where do we go from here with Ja’neh’s case? Is there an end in sight? Will Ja’neh be forced to return Anne Constance’s land? Or if the land is returned, will Ja’neh get his money back with interest. Can it be established after his trial that the land transaction was done legally? Illegally?

    It seems that the Ja’neh case will lead to nowhere!

  6. Are you guys speaking from the constitution? or just being sentimental?.Let’s respect our laws of the land,the organic law. The constitution is straightforward on the issues of Janeh questionable proceedings.

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