Immediately after the House Chairman on Judiciary, Rep. Samuel G. Karmo of Bomi County, appeared before Justice in Chambers Jamesetta Wolokollie yesterday and promised her lawmakers would not do anything to undermine the Constitution, Justice Wolokollie lifted a temporary stay she placed on Legislative activities.
Apart from lifting the stay order, Justice Wolokollie gave the House’s plenary 73 hours to look into Rep. Edwin Snowe’s complaint filed against that august body to the Supreme Court.
“Go back and discuss Rep. Snowe’s complaint; and your failure to do so in three days’ time, the Supreme Court would act immediately,” she warned when she held an open conference in the chambers of the court with lawyers of Mr. Snowe and the House’s legal team headed by Rep. Karmo.
On Friday, Justice Wolokollie was compelled to place a stay order on Legislative activities after Snowe complained to the Supreme Court against a recent decision by the House to use a quorum from roll call taken on June 2 for one month, meaning that there would be no roll call of lawmakers during any of their sitting until July 2, which Rep. Snowe argued was against their Rules and Procedures.
Snowe was not in session that day when some of his colleagues overwhelmingly approved that decision, which he opposed arguing that it was unconstitutional, before filing his complaint to the Supreme Court for its intervention.
Roll call in parliamentary proceedings is taken before the commencement of every sitting to determine the number of lawmakers present, in case there is a need to pass a legislation that needs a two thirds vote.
At yesterday’s hearing, an apologetic Rep. Karmo said, “We (lawmakers) would not do anything to undermine the Judiciary.”
Rep. Karmo, who is also a lawyer, explained that Rep. Snowe filed his dissatisfaction against the unanimous decision of his colleagues to the plenary, stressing that “the plenary did not have the chance to look into his complaint when he brought the matter before the Supreme Court.”
He continued, “The issues were in the agenda for last Thursday’s discussion, but because there was no light we could not go into the merits and demerits of his argument, and we want to assure you that we are going to handle the matter before the end of the three days,” Rep. Karmo assured Justice Wolokollie.
According to Karmo, his colleagues have not exhausted all the administrative channels available to the plenary to handle Rep. Snowe’s complaint.
Before that, Snowe’s lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, told the court that the decision of the Legislature violated the Constitution and the Houses’ own Rules and Procedures.
According to the House Rules and Procedures, Chapter Six on “Quorum and Commencement of Business,” the Order of Business always includes a “Roll Call.”
“A quorum shall consist of a simple majority of the members of that august body. Quorum shall be necessary for the transaction of business. However, minority meet on a daily basis to conduct their official matters. Meetings at which a quorum is not present, only a motion to compel the attendance of absent members or to adjourn may be made,” the House Rules and Procedures state.
However, the legal suit comes at a time some members of the House of Representatives asked Speaker Alex Tyler to recuse himself from proceedings over the plenary, unless the speaker can exonerate himself from the Global Witness bribery allegation.
The government recently indicted Speaker Tyler for his alleged involvement in the Global Witness scandal, which matter is pending before Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice.