Senate Trashes Witness Impeachment Trial Controversy

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Senators debate the controversial juror/witness amendment.

Votes today on amended Rule #63 for the impeachment trial

It took plenary of the Senate about two hours of heated debate to agree on how to thrash out a sticky and controversial portion of its amended Rule 63, which will now be used for impeachment trials.

The portion of amended Rule 63 stipulates that a senator serving as a juror must be allowed to serve as a witness and later vote during the impeachment trial.

According to count 18 of the amendments made to the Senate Standing Rule 63, “If a senator is called as a witness (the Senate serves as a juror in impeachment trials) he/she shall be sworn and give his/her testimony standing in his/her place.”

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney Sherman, who made a supporting statement to that amendment, argued that legally he did not see anything wrong with a Senator who has constitutionally qualified as jury and, at the same time, called to serve as a witness in an impeachment trial.

But hardly did Sherman end his statement when “hardliner” senators, including Oscar Cooper (Margibi), Thomas Grupee (Nimba), and Daniel Naatehn (Gbarpolu) vehemently disagreed, pointing out that whatever amendment done to Senate Rule 63 must be in compliance with Article 43 of the Constitution.

Article 43 of the Liberian Constitution states that, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate.

Senator Cooper in his verbal argument with Pro tempore Albert Chie, said that the amendment to Rule 63 was in direct conflict with the Constitution: “What we are doing here is setting up an impeachment proceeding that is a landmark that will be held for Presidents, Chief Justices, Senators, Representatives; and in setting this landmark precedent, my reservation is strong on Article 43 …” Sen. Cooper then walked out of the Chambers.

Other Senators argued further that for the sake of expediency and legality, a senator cannot be a jury and a witness at the same time, “because at that juncture, legality and expediency clash; legality prevails as a juror; you should remain as a juror, listen to all the factual issues and make a determination ,” Lofa County Senator Stephen Zargo said.

Senator Thomas Grupee said that since the Constitution has qualified Senators in an impeachment trial as jurors, “that means you are disqualified from serving as a witness, and in case a Senator has agreed to serve as a witness, we should be notified so that that person cannot be seated as a juror, because once we are seated, we are Constitutionally jurors; so fellow colleagues, this thing is clear, let us remove this amendment.”

In their amendment to the amendment, the Senators voted that once the Senate is seated Constitutionally as a juror, no Senator will be allowed to serve as a witness and at the same time vote as a member of that body.
In a final motion by Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown, the plenary mandated the Judiciary Committee to revise the rule in accordance with the decision made by plenary, “specifically that has to do with Chapter 15 and Chapter 18, and the final vote on the issue of adopting Rule 63 must be taken today.”

Meanwhile, there is yet no indication as to whether the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh will come up during the one-month extraordinary session of the Legislature.

Well placed sources among the senators have expressed fear that some of their colleagues may abscond the trial, thus causing the Senate to fall short of the needed two-thirds voting power.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Let justice be done to all!!! In as much as I want Kabineh Janeh impeached for what he did to that poor 90 years old lady, I cannot concur with that idea of a Senator standing as witness and juror concurrently; for such a conduct would be violative of the final clause of Article 43 which stipulates that The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which SHALL BE IN CONFORMITY WITH THE REQUIREMENT OF THE DUE PROCESS OF LAW!

    THE DUE PROCESS OF LAW DOES NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO SERVE AS JUROR AND WITNESS AT THE SAME TIME, WHETHER HE OR SHE IS AN ORDINARY INDIVIDUAL, AN EXECUTIVE, A JUDGE, A LEGISLATOR, A BEAST, OR A GOD!

    As for Senators who may abscond the trial, they would be mere cowards, and hypocrites; since they are NEVER EVER under any pressure to vote for or against, against their will.

    Therefore, the day such ever occurs, where a senator would run away, because he or she cannot vote in accordance with or to the dictates of his or her conscience, intellect, will, or sensibilities, then he or she is not fit to be a senator.

    And if such should happen where senators have absconded the trial ( a situation which we seriously doubt knowing the typical Liberian man or woman), such senators should be expelled forthwith!

    I have spoken!!!

    • The Lawyer that you now called Justice Ja’neh, was he a Justice of the Supreme Court when he bought the land from her son? Nothing that this lawyer did in the past when he was not on the Supreme Court Bench can be used against him! What is hurting you CDCIANS, is the dissenting opinion of Justice Ja’neh in this 2017 election that was manipulated to have the CDC as a winner, but no matter what you people will do today, posterity will still know that you people took power by hook or crook means in this country and not by popular votes. Your shadow will catch up with you one day.
      Thanks.

    • Dortu-Siboe Doe thinks he knows it all. Shakespeare once said “he who thinks he knows and knows not is a fool.” Why should judge Ja’neh be judged for something it is alleged he did when he was not an Associate Justice? But again, this is the CDC’s self proclaimed political analyst who sat back supinely and watched a container load of the Liberian people’s money disappear in thin air. Were he honest he would have come up to tell us where his partisans took the money. Truly, our country is now in the hands of thieves. The onus is now on us to figure a way on how to rid ourselves of these locusts.

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