-Ad Hoc Justice Boima Kontoe
Judge Boima Kontoe, the ad hoc Justice appointed by President George Weah to cast a decisive vote on the granting or rejection of the Writ of Prohibition prayed for by suspended Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, yesterday said at the opening of Criminal Court A, B, C, D and E, in the presence of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, that the Legislature is clothed with the right to protect the Constitution.
Ja’neh’s writ sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, to which Kontoe was appointed to fill the vacancy created as a result of Ja’neh’s recusal from hearing of his request to prevent him from being impeached by the majority members of the House of Representatives.
Earlier, the four remaining members of the Bench arrived at a split decision on the matter. The nomination of an ad hoc justice, therefore, became necessary to meet the quorum required for the full bench.
Delivering his charge at the opening of the November Term of Criminal Courts (A,B, C, D and E) at the Temple of Justice, Kontoe, however, did not make any specific reference to the Ja’neh case, but said the Constitution has invested in the Legislature the power to make and pass laws.
Kontoe, who spoke on the topic, “The Constitution of Liberia Is the Bedrock of Our National Existence”, said the Legislature has the sole authority to give clarity to the provisions of the Constitution, and that this extended to it the rights, processes and procedures to protecting and securing those rights.
The argument of the ad hoc Justice comes amidst contentions by the House of Representatives that Ja’neh has “committed a serious official misconduct by engaging in a 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 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.”
Kontoe said that the Legislature also has the right to lay out certain procedures of which courts and subordinate courts conducting criminal and civil trial need to follow whenever they are exercising their jurisdiction in the determination of cases that would appear before judges in the country.
While explaining about the Legislature’s functions on the importance of the Constitution, Kontoe did not mention anything directly regarding Ja’neh’s writ, despite the fact that he is yet to cast the much talk about decisive vote.
He went on to say that the mechanism established by the law enacted by the Legislature “defines the bedrock of our democracy.”
Kontoe then lauded Chief Justice Korkpor and the Supreme Court for selecting him as the speaker for the opening of the courts, describing as a “privilege.”
Meanwhile, members of the National Trial Judges Association, of which Ja’neh is a part, however, has failed to say anything about the impeachment move for almost four months.
Initially, the very association was the same that criticized the Legislature when they were in the process of impeaching three Associate Justices that included Philip A.Z. Banks (retired), Jamesetta Wolokollie and Ja’neh, who ruled on the controversial code of conduct. The lawmakers then accused those justices of violating the Constitution and making the laws instead of interpreting them.