Lawyer Advises Chief Justice Not To Attend Ja’neh’s Impeachment Trial

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Francis Korkpor2.jpg
Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor

A senior lawyer strongly advised Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor not to attend, and or preside over what he considered as “contemplated” impeachment trial by members of the Senate against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, if lawmakers from the Lower House do not show-up during the hearing of Supreme Court’s Writ of Prohibition.

Cllr. Amara Sheriff believes that, for Justice Korkpor to preside over Ja’neh’s impeachment, demonstrates his clear violation of the Supreme Court orders, and “also send a clear message to the international  partners that Liberia has serious political deficit, which is  none adherence to the laws of the land. And, it would further erode the public treasury of the Court, which is ‘Confidence.’

“With the insults, condemnations, and degradation by the lawmakers, Justice Korkpor does not allow you to submit the Court and preside over the impeachment proceedings,” Sheriff said in a communication.

“You also have consented and yielded to the insults, degradation, condemnation of the Supreme Court, and have entertained their false believe that members of the House of Representatives are above the law in contradiction of Article 3 of the Constitution,” Sheriff told Korkpor.

Article 3 states that “Liberia is a unitary sovereign state divided into counties for administrative purposes. The form of government is Republican with three separate coordinate branches: the Legislative, the Executive and Judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.”

Sheriff’s assertion was contained in a letter he submitted to Chief Justice Korkpor, and carbon copy to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers.

It was also in response to members of the House of Representative letter they wrote to the Supreme Court.

The High Court lawyer said the lawmakers’ action virulently attacked the Constitution and the Supreme Court and “it denigrate, ridicule, impair the dignity, integrity, and respect of and erode the constitutional powers, duties and responsibilities of the Court thereby destroying its public confidence that seem at stake.”

The lawmakers letter copy with the Daily Observer reads, “I present compliments and by directive of the Plenary of the Honorable House of Representative 54th Legislature (IN SESSION] have the honor to inform you that it is in possession of a paper served on it entitled, Writ of Prohibition  by Your Honor  Justice in Chambers Sie-A-Nyene Youh.”

The communication further says: “The Plenary of the House of Representatives has instructed me to further inform you for reasons set out below, that the House of Representatives does not intend to honor the terms or conditions of the Writ.”

It says, “The House thinks that the Writ violates Article 3 separation of powers clause and Article 42 immunities clause, Article 43 impeachment Powers and a long line of cases and precedence in this jurisdiction and its progeny.”

In conclusion, the letter advised, “You are therefore advised in the interest of our constitutional democracy and consistent with the separation of powers and checks and balances to vacate this Writ and avoid embarrassment to the sacred institution of the Supreme Court.”

Sheriff argued that the pre-requisite for Korkpor to preside over Ja’neh’s impeachment to execute this Constitutional mandate is for House to submit to another constitutional proviso which he said,  the  Supreme Court is the final and Court of last resort, whether the matter before it is political in nature or Justiciable matters.”

“One branch cannot claim rights granted to it by the constitution and require the other branch to respect those rights but at the same time disrespects, abuses, disobeys the other branch constitution granted rights, power, and authority. It doesn’t make sense today, tomorrow, and forever. Corresponding respects and full obedience to all of the laws of the land are true hallmark of democratic society,” according to Sheriff.

On the issue of the letter, Sheriff said, it was a national disgrace and total mockery to the rule of law in present day Liberia.

“The House letter has the propensity for civilized nations of the world to believe that Liberia is without rule of law given the virulent attack made on the country constitutional court,” he claimed.

“Why the House elected to sarcastic another branch of government by describing the Writ of Prohibition ‘a paper’ and purported Writ, he wondered.

Sheriff maintained that the Supreme Court’s response to the House’s letter of attacked was for the Court to “firmly exercise its Constitutional authority to re-direct the thinking of the House of Representatives in order to bring the august body under the barometer of constitution and statute laws of the Republic of Liberia.”

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7 COMMENTS

  1. This advice to the Chief Justice is unprofessional and if the Chief Justice abides by it and refuses to perform his constitutional obligation to preside over a Senate Impeachment trial, it would certainly amount to an impeachable act. Clearly, the Lawyer advising the Chief Justice to take an illegal action in dereliction of his duty because of his presumption that the House disrespected the Chief Justice Office will certainly not appeal to international stakeholders. To deliberately choose to violate the Constitution on the ground that you are trying to prove that an action by a Chamber of the Legislative Branch is in breach damages the Court’s credibility for the respect of law. There’s no constitutional provision for the action suggested by Attorney Sheriff.

    He doesn’t even make a legal case for the action he suggests, but rely on sentiments that are not relevant to the drafting of the Bill. The House clearly described it as a “purported writ” because it has no legal force as served upon the House. I would think these Lawyers supporting the Court’s action would rather make their case relying on jurisprudence with available history of case law and the Court’s own precedent from the holding in former Speaker Tyler’s petition to the Court.

    There is a problem with this statement from the story attributed to the Attorney:

    ‘Sheriff argued that the pre-requisite for Korkpor to preside over Ja’neh’s impeachment to execute this Constitutional mandate is for House to submit to another constitutional proviso which he said, the Supreme Court is the final and Court of last resort, whether the matter before it is political in nature or Justiciable matters.”

    My question is, what provision of the Constitution is he relying on as setting forth this pre-requisite for Chief Justice Korkpor to preside only under condition that the House ‘submit to another constitutional provision’?

    And what jurisprudence does he suggest the Court rely on in making a decision that is in contrast to the decision in the Tyler case, which appears to be a clear precedent on what the Court has decided on its role on impeachment proceedings in the House? And does the Constitution specifically mention the Court’s authority over political matters outside the purview of the Judiciary Branch? If the Court has such authority over the vested sole authority of the House’ proceedings, what then would prevent the Court from demanding that the House appears before the Court and explain how it decides on Bills, allocate a committee’s chairmanship and any other action constitutionally vested in the House? In relying on U.S. jurisprudence, you will not find any legal practitioner in the U.S. or who attended a U.S. law school with practice in the U.S. who would make such a suggestion to any State Chief Justice. I encourage lawyers on both sides of the debate to make the legal case for their respective positions, citing case laws, precedents and U.S. jurisprudence and historical rulings on Impeachment proceedings in the U.S. to make this exercise worthy for the text books for law schools students. I’ve yet to see any intellectual argument by the lawyers supporting the Court that is worth putting in any legal reasoning textbook.

  2. The Supreme Court has absolutely no authority to put a stay order on an impeachment proceeding when the constitution clearly states that that POWER lies SOLELY with the HOR. Three separate Co-equals, its similar to saying the HOR has the right to tell the Supreme Court to halt a ruling into a case till they met for a conference. Its the legislature duty t make the law, the Supreme Court interprets the laws passed by the legislature. When Snowe and Tyler went to the Supreme Court, their argument was that, they did not have the legal authority to interfere in the affairs of the other branch of government which is unconstitutional. Why do they now see it as constitutional to put a stay order that interferes with a clear constitutional mandate given to the legislature? This is the reason for Checks and Balances enshrined in the constitution to check abuse of power. What should be discussed right now is the prescribed rules, laws or procedures used to commence the trial. The Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and is in error. Legal practitioners should stop trying to undermine the constitution in the name of interpreting what the constitution means regarding this topic when we all can read and clearly understand the functions and duties of each branch of government, its powers and limitations. The President and Vice President, legislators can equally be removed. The justices are not immune to impeachment.

  3. For me I am enjoying the entire process. Let the laws be implemented. From today I respect the members of representation. If the chief justice refuses to preside when call apon by the Senate, he will be immediately with out delayed. Cillr sheriff wants to damage the job of our chief justice because of tribalism. But please Our honorable chief justice, the Liberian people respected the decision you made during the election process, please prove yourself always. So-called cillr don’t know that he way,he don’t know the law.

  4. cLLR Sherriff makes no sense. He’s behaving like an ignoramus purely on sentiments and tribalism. He has lost his sense of balance and reasoning. how these guys got thru the law school is at times laughable.

  5. If some lawyers believe the Court is right and the House is wrong, why don’t they suggest the Court respond to the House reply to the writ and Court’s order to appear? Folks, the House actually responded to the Court’s inerrant directive with this response from the above story:

    ‘It says, “The House thinks that the Writ violates Article 3 separation of powers clause and Article 42 immunities clause, Article 43 impeachment Powers and a long line of cases and precedence in this jurisdiction and its progeny.”’

    I am interested in the Court’s response to the precedent set in the former Speaker Tyler’s petition. The Court’s supporters should note that it has to abide by its own decision as final arbiter of Constitutional matters. The holding in the Tyler’s case serves as precedent here, so I’m amused at the lack of consideration given to precedent established by the very court.

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