….For Supreme Court’s Justices
By Necus M. Andrews
Majority members of Representatives in session Tuesday endorsed discussions on a draft resolution for the impeachment of three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.
They include Justice Philip AZ Banks, III, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie and Kabineh Ja’Neh.
Justice Banks and others are being targeted by the Legislature for impeachment for their alleged ‘misconduct’ on the enforcement of the National Code of Conduct for Public Officials.
Some members of the Legislature had said the three Associate Justices’ opinions in cases involving the Code of Conduct did usurp the powers and authority of the Legislature and thereby made ineffective and virtually null and void the Code of Conduct.
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. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
In a report, the House’s Committee on Judiciary said a writ of summons has been issued on each of the three of the Associate Justices with return served.
According to the Judiciary Committee, in the absence of any law, rules governing impeachment proceedings and given that there is no proceeding for it, a resolution has been drafted which sets out the rules for the impeachment of the Associate Justices.
The committee said the drafting of a resolution and issuance of writ are all due processes being given to Justice Banks and others, and the right to legal representation in keeping with the dictates of the Constitution of Liberia.
“Given the limited time that left for this session of the House of Representatives, we urge you to suspend our rules, discuss and vote on the resolution and send the resolution to the Liberian Senate for its consideration,” the committee said in the report.
One of the Representatives, Edwin Snowe said has described the impeachment proceeding as premature and premeditated.
Representative Snowe has therefore filed a motion for reconsideration, calling on the drafters of the impeachment resolution to abandon their quest.