-Soon to be retired Justice Philip Banks may join lawsuit
Her Honor Gladys K. Johnson, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has sued the Executive Branch of the Government, by and through the ministries of Justice and the Finance and Development Planning as well as the Legislative Branch, by and through the Speaker of the House of Representatives for refusing to pay her legal and factual pensions and benefits from August 2016, up to and including the filing date of this Petition of Writ of Mandamus.
Mandamus is a “Special proceeding to obtain a writ requiring the respondents to perform an official duty.”
In the Justice Johnson’s petition which was read under miscellaneous on Tuesday, June 12 in the House’s Chamber, Johnson prayed the Supreme Court to “compel and order the respondents to pay and cause to be paid overdue and unpaid retirement pensions and benefits to the petitioner and similarly situated retired members of the Judiciary Branch of the Liberian government and to provide appropriations in the 2018/2019 National Budget for pensions and other benefits for petitioner and similarly situated retired and to be retired members of the Judiciary.”
The Writ of Mandamus was voted upon and turned over to the House’s Chairman on Judiciary, chaired by Representative J. Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru County District #2.
According to the Writ, the respondents (ministries of Justice and the Finance and Development Planning as well as the Legislative Branch, by and through the Speaker of the House of Representatives), are expected to appear before Her Honor Jamesetta Wolokolie, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, on Friday, June 22, at 9:a.m. to show cause why the Justice Johnson’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.
In her argument, Justice Johnson said the Chief Justice and Associate Justices should have received pensions and benefits for legal and factual reasons, according to Article 72(b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
“The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of 70…”
Johnson said pursuant to the provision of the constitution, in March 2011, having served in various capacities within the Judiciary (first as Monthly and Probate Court Judge for Montserrado County and later as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), and having reached the age of 75, while serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court honorable retired from active employment with the Liberian government.
Besides the Constitutional reliance, the Petitioner, also said in 2003, the Legislature, one of the Respondent here, enacted a law entitled “An Act to Amend and Providing for Retirement Pension of the President, and Vice President of Liberia, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Members of the Legislature, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.”
According to retired Justice Johnson, the law was approved by the President of Liberia on October 8, 2003, and thereafter published in handbills.
She further said Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for Senior Government Officials provide in part that: “A former Associate Justice who has honorably retired to private life and she is not in any way gainfully employed by government shall receive a pension equal to fifty percent (50%) of the salary of the incumbent Associate Justice. In addition, a former Associate Justice shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his/her natural life. The allowance for this purpose shall not be less than US$6,000 per annum.
Meanwhile, she said from the time of her honorable retirement from the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice in March 2011 to her re-employment in government as a member of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in April 2012, she was never paid a retirement pension and other benefits as mandated by Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for senior government officials.
However, in her argument, retired Justice Johnson concedes that upon her re-employment with the Liberian Government as a member of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, her legal entitlement to retirement pensions and benefits were suspended pursuant to the final paragraph of Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for Senior Government Officials, which provides in part that: “Upon being re-gainfully employed by Government, annuity (pension) granted to the former Associate Justice shall be suspended….”
Accordingly, legal suspension of pensions and other benefits for petitioner continue throughout her transfer to the Independent National Human Rights Commission as its Chairman and her service in this latter position and returned to private life, with no other employment with the Liberian Government since August 2016; Respondents have failed and refused to comply, which means indebted and obligated to the Petitioner for retirement pensions and benefits from August 2016 up to and including the filing date of this Petition.
Moreover, with the pending retirement of Associate Justice Philip Banks, which is expected to be held today, Monday, June 18, there is a probable cause, he might join the lawsuit demanding retirement pensions.