Four of the five justices of the Supreme Court that include Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, yesterday, August 6, paid tribute to the humanity, integrity, intelligence and courage of Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Chief Justice Korkpor, who paid tribute in the Joint Chamber of the Supreme Court at the Temple of Justice, said Justice Banks had displayed humanity, integrity, intelligence and courage while carrying out his duties.
“You have served this country exceptionally well,” justice Korkpor told Justice Banks in a crowded courtroom.
Korkpor acknowledged that the judiciary was deeply indebted for all the works Justice Banks did, before describing him as one of the best law professors that have ever served on the bench with him.
Justices Kabineh Ja’neh, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie and Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, also attested to the integrity, intelligence and courage of Banks.
Korkpor recounted when he and other justices (Yuoh and Wolokollie) were students of Banks at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia.
“We drank from his fountain of knowledge when we were students under him at the law school,” Korkpor repeatedly said.
Korkpor encouraged Banks not to just keep his wisdom and knowledge he had shared with them on the Supreme Court Bench, but to also use them to impact the larger society.
Justice Wolokollie, for her part, said Banks was one of the justices that they could rely on for direction whenever they were rendering an important judgment (opinion) that could border on justice.
“Whenever you write your opinions, Banks sometimes rephrased and changed the wordings, this was exactly him,” Wolokollie reflected of Banks tutorship.
Besides, Wolokollie said, Banks was their inspiration.
In her intervention, Justice Yuoh said Banks was one of those people she had interacted with that had an impart on her life.
“Banks imparted my life when he taught me corporate law, when he served as chairman of the Law Reform Commission as my boss,” Yuoh said.
Unlike, Yuoh and Wolokollie, Justice Ja’neh said it was now important for the government to look into the issue of retirement benefits for judges.
Making specific reference to retired Associate Justice Gladys K. Johnson, Ja’neh said she was compelled to take the government to court to reclaim her retirement benefit.
“If justices were treated fairly on the issue of retirement benefits that would make a justice happy, whenever a judge is approaching retirement age,” Ja’neh maintained, “Government needs to reconsider its action on retirement benefits for judges.”