What appears to be a sour relationship between Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and impeached Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh was visible on Saturday, December 1, during the national convention of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), where both justices are senior members.
The convention, which saw Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe win a landslide election for president of the LNBA, was held in Buchanan, the capital city of Grand Bassa County.
During the convention, at no time were the justices seen greeting each other the Liberian way by shaking hands, as they normally did. Also, the two female justices, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie and Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, were nowhere seen holding discussions with Chief Justice Korkpor.
The relationship has gotten worse, particularly in the lead up to, during and right after 3-2 vote of the full bench, rejecting Justice Ja’neh’s prohibition request against the House of Representatives.
Chief Justice Korkpor, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, and Ad Hoc Justice Boima Kontoe were the Justices that voted “no,” while Associate Justices Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie and Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, voted yes.
Surprisingly, at the LNBA convention, there was no time that Korkpor and Ja’neh ever greeted each other, though they sat close to each other on the podium.
Even, during the parade and subsequent closed-door meeting that lasted for over 10 hours, there was no conversation between the two as they normally did whenever they attended such national events, where Justice Ja’neh could normally be seen filling the Chief Justice’s glass with water or juice to demonstrate his respect.
At one instance, when they went for a food break, Korkpor was seen sitting outside the hall with Associate Justice Nagbe and other senior lawyers having discussions.
Ja’neh and the two female justices, Wolokollie and Yuoh, also remained inside the hall, but were in a discussion among themselves.
Even while Chief Justice Korkpor seated outside of the hall, Ja’neh remained inside the building throughout the food break.
The question many lawyers were apparently asking was how the two justices, both from Nimba County and having served on the Supreme Court bench for almost 13 years, could resolve their problem.
It may be recalled that an effort by Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh to prevent suspended Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh’s impeachment trial was on Friday, November 30 dashed when three Supreme Court Justices, including Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, refused to support her stay order on members of the House of Representatives’ bill of impeachment.
On August 18, Justice Yuoh, then Justice in Chamber, imposed the stay order on some members of the House of Representatives, which included Speaker Bhofal Chambers, to desist from any proceedings about Ja’neh’s impeachment, pending the ruling of the Justice’s complaint of a constitutional violation, by the full bench of the Supreme Court.
In response, members of the House wrote the Supreme Court to “vacate the purported stay order and avoid embarrassment.”