…As S/Court Summons House Of Rep.
What appears to be a constitutional crisis in Liberia is said to be looming considering the summoning of the House of Representatives by the Supreme Court over plans to impeach three Justices of the Court.
A statement from the High Court Wednesday said the Court has initiated judicial proceedings to determine the constitutionality and legality of the actions by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives which is seeking to impeach three Justices on account of opinions rendered by the Court.
The Court questioned the authority of the House’s Judiciary Committee to summon three Associate Justices to appear before it for impeachment proceedings.
A statement from the Judiciary said the Court’s position is premised on Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution (1986) which states: “No judicial officer shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made or acts done by such officials, in the course of a judicial proceeding, shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification; no such statements made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”
The High Court argued in the statement that under the Constitution of Liberia (1986) specifically Article 66, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all disputes and hence any attempt by any person or institution, including any of the other branches of the Government to review the final decision or judgment of the Supreme Court, as is being attempted by House of Representatives is unconstitutional.
The Court said the action by the House of Representatives is not only unconstitutional but an attempt to circumvent the Constitution of Liberia.
The Supreme Court has ordered its Clerk to issue writs of summons on the Plenary of the House of Representatives to appear before the Full Bench on August 18, 2017, to defend the constitutionality of their action.
The Court has also ordered members of the House to stay all further action(s) in the petition for impeachment until the Supreme Court has made a final determination of the constitutionality of their actions.
Meanwhile, a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition has been filed before the Justice in Chambers of the Supreme Court by the Justice & Peace Interest Consortium (JUPICA) and Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, a candidate for the House of Representatives in District #3, Maryland County, against the House of Representatives and its Standing Committee on Judiciary.
The Justice in Chambers has also ordered the House of Representatives to appear on August 19, 2017, to show cause why the petitioner’s petition should not be granted.
Justice Philip Z, B. Banks has also ordered the respondents to stay all further proceedings in the matter of the petition for impeachment and ordered all parties to return to status quo ante pending the disposition of the Writ of Prohibition.