Arguments as to whether Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh’s August 18 stay order imposed on the impeachment proceeding of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, by the majority members of the House of Representatives should remain in place, is scheduled for hearing today, by the Full Bench of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Speaker Bhofal Chambers and some members of the House of Representatives earlier discarded the Writ of Prohibition filed before Justice Yuoh, on the impeachment proceedings against the Associate Justice. The lower house later cemented its decision by not filing their response to Ja’neh’s petition, which now means that only Ja’neh’s legal team would appear for today’s deliberation which some legal experts have described as an exercise in futility.
Besides, the Court also invited the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to appear for today’s hearing to defend the law as to whether the lawmakers were proceeding erroneously.
The Associate Justice’s order to place a stay order on the impeachment proceeding of Justice Ja’neh stemmed from a 14-count petition for the writ of prohibition filed before her by five lawyers, Cllrs. James E. Pierre, Laveli Supuwood, Emmanuel James, Johnny Momoh and Arthur Johnson opposing the bill of impeachment forwarded to the House of Representatives by two lawmakers from Montserrado County, Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah, against Justice Ja’neh.
Both Reps. Gray of Montserrado County District #8 and Fallah of District #5, (all from the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change), stated that Justice Ja’neh should be impeached because he has allegedly committed serious official misconduct by allegedly engaging in the wanton and unsavory exercise of his judicial discretion far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues simply to satisfy his personal ego.
The two lawmakers also want Ja’neh impeached for what they termed as “proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of his office by allegedly allowing justice to be served where it belongs no matter the status of the party affected.”
According to the two CDC lawmakers, Justice Ja’neh has allegedly engaged in proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform his functions beyond reproach and surreptitiously connived with the late Nyema Constance Jr. to illegally acquire a piece of property located in Sinkor which is owned by 90-year-old Annie Yancy Constance, the widow of the late Nyema Constance Sr.
But, Ja’neh’s legal team, in their petition, argued that under Article 73 of the 1986 Constitution no judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and acts done in the course of a trial in court or in chambers.
The lawyers argued that Article 20 (a) of the 1986 Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in the Constitution in accordance with the due process of law.
The lawyers said the Liberian Constitution requires that an impeachment of a justice of the Supreme Court or judge of subordinate court of record must be based on four grounds as required under Article 71 of the Constitution — proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the function of their office or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes. But the lawmakers’ bill of impeachment clearly has not met the four requirements needed for impeachment.
It was based on that argument that the lawyers asked for the issuance of the alternative Writ of Prohibition that forwarded the matter to the full bench of the Supreme Court for a hearing and determination, “because the petition for prohibition squarely raises constitutional issues,” the lawyers said.