Will Retired Supreme Court Justice Banks Receive Pension?

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Retired Associated Justice Philip A/Z. Banks

There are fears that in the absence of pension for Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, retired Justice Philip A. Z. Banks is likely to join other retired judges who are yet to receive pension benefits.

The situation about the fate of retired justices and judges regarding their pension scheme was recently highlighted in a communication submitted to the Senate by Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney Sherman.

The retirement program for Justice Banks, who has served on the Supreme Court Bench for eight years, was held Tuesday at the Temple of Justice.

In his letter to the Senate plenary, Senator Sherman warned that in the absence of pension for Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, they will be susceptible to corruption in order to secure for themselves basic services and decent livelihood after retirement.

The comment by Senator Sherman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims & Petitions was contained in the summary of a report from his committee, under the title: “Retirement Pension for the Most Senior Officials of the Liberian Government.”

Debate on that communication is yet to take place, as Senate President Pro-tempore Albert Chie ordered that said report be circulated among Senators before action.

In the summary of the report, dated February 2, 2018, and addressed to Senate President Pro-tempore Chie and Senate plenary, Senator Sherman complained that, “Notwithstanding the existence of law for pension for retired Justices of the Supreme Court and retired Judges of Circuit Courts, pension has not been given to former Associate Justice Gladys K. Johnson, who honorably retired in 2011 upon reaching 70 years of age as provided by Article 72 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia. “

Senator Sherman lamented the lack of pension for Associate Justice Philip Banks, who has now retired from the Supreme Court Bench, as well as Circuit Judge Amy Musu Jones and Labor Court Judge Comfort Natt, who will all retire later this year (2018), as is the case of judges who have previously been retired. “These retired Justices and Judges will not be receiving retirement pension because there are no budgetary appropriations for their pensions, even though the law provides for them.”

According to the report, Senator Sherman is relying on the Act to Amend Section 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law, enacted in 1989, which provide for pension for the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia. That section also provides for pension for judges of Circuit and Magisterial Courts.

Cllr. Sherman then implored the Senate plenary to interpret the word “salary” used in the law for retirement pension for Justices and Judges to mean all income, salary and benefits received prior to retirement. He asked plenary to apply real economics to the term “salary” when the retirement pension laws were enacted as compared to what salary is today in the depreciation of the Liberian dollar and the percentage of income now paid as benefits, as compared to when those laws were enacted.

The Grand Cape Mount lawmaker concluded with a passionate plea to plenary to intercede with President George Weah so that as “he recasts the 2017/2018 National Budget, appropriations would be made for retired Justices of the Supreme Court and retired Judges of subordinate courts. “

3 COMMENTS

  1. Without doubt, Senator Sherman got it right. Since an honest senior public servant who retires cannot afford a home, a car, help grandchildren or take vacations, society empowers corruption when it fails to make financial provisions for government employees in general. Unfortunately, a missed opportunity to address the pension issue was the aborted attempt to flesh out the Wage & Compensation Stabilization proposal at JuwilliJuah Farm in Bomi County. Some recipients of the giveaways publicly opposed salary reductions, even though Security Sector principals have alarmed that “pervasive poverty” threatens stability; a situation percolating in the hands of a new government which inherited a broke treasury after the worst wealth wastage.

    The paralysis in the face of something so fundamental and foundational to institutional integrity and efficiency as retirement cushions speaks volumes: Systemic buse of power, low morale, indiscipline, lack of accountability, substandard services, low productivity, indifference in income-generating agencies, half-hearted revenue collection including all the irresponsible tendencies that have kept a resource-rich republic, poor, backward, and divided despite having some of the best educated on the continent for a population of less than five million. For goodness sake, let’s stop the endless crisis and confusion, and concentrate on developing Liberia and empowering the suffering Country-Congo vast majority.

  2. The Law says YES!..Let’s read
    13.4. Compensation of Judiciary; retirement pensions and death benefits.

    1. Salaries. The salaries of justices, judges and stipendiary magistrates shall be fixed by statute and shall be provided by annual budgetary appropriation. The salary to be provided for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be the same as that of the Vice President.

    2. No reduction of compensation. The compensation of a Justice, judge or stipendiary magistrate shall not be reduced during the term for which he was appointed.

    Pension for former Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

    1. A former Chief justice who has honourably retired to private life and who is not in any way gainfully employed by Government shall receive from Government a pension equal to Fifty (50%) percent of the salary of the incumbent Chief Justice per annum. In addition, the former Chief Justice shall be entitled to a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his or her natural life, and the amount allowed for this purpose shall not be less than Fifteen thousand ($15,000.00) Dollars per annum.

    2. The surviving spouse of a deceased former Chief Justice or a Chief Justice who died in office shall be entitled to receive an annuity equal to Fifty (50%) percent of the pension received by the former Chief Justice during the natural life of the said spouse. In addition, the surviving spouse of the deceased Chief Justice of former Chief Justice shall be entitled to a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of the natural life of said spouse, and the amount allowed for this purpose shall not be less than Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500.00) per annum. This annuity shall commence as of the date of the death or the Chief Justice or former Chief justice.

    3. On the death of the spouse or if there is no spouse, the annuity provided for the surviving spouse shall be paid in equal portion to each of the minor children of the deceased Chief Justice or former Chief Justice.

    4. Upon being re-gainfully employed by Government, the annuity granted to the former Chief Justice shall be suspended, and if the annuitant qualifies for a second annuity upon the termination of services with the Government, he or she shall have the right to choose whichever annuity is greater.

    Annuities for former Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

    1. A former Associate Justice who has honourably retired to private life and who is not in any way gainfully employed by Government shall receive from the Government a pension equal to Fifty (50%) percent of the salary of the incumbent Associate Justice per annum. In addition, the former Associate Justice shall be entitled to a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his natural life, and the amount allowed for this purpose shall not be less than Ten Thousand ($10,000.00) Dollars per annum.

    2. Upon being re-gainfully employed by Government, the annuity granted to the former Associate Justice shall be suspended, and if the annuitant qualifies for a second annuity upon the second termination of services with the Government, he or she shall have the right to choose whichever annuity is greater.

    3. Payment after death. Fifty (50%) percent of the annuity for a former Associate Justice who died in office shall be paid after the death of the Associate Justice to his spouse during the natural life of the said spouse. In addition, the surviving spouse of the deceased Associate Justice shall be entitled to a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of the natural life of said spouse, and the amount allowed for this purpose shall not be less than Five Thousand ($5,000.00) dollars per annum. This annuity shall commence as of the date of the death of the Associate Justice.

    4. On the death of the spouse or if there is no spouse, the pension provided for the surviving spouse shall be paid in equal portion to each of the minor children of the deceased Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

  3. Thanks Nelson for the informative lawful facts provided by you unlike this lazy journalist who chose not to research his constitutional facts before writing. I wonder why our journalists cant back their professional opinions with researched facts regardless of who they are pointing finger to? Why write about something to the contrary when it is clearly transcribed in our constitution that retired judges do get benefits? Thanks again Nelson.

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