MONROVIA: Amidst the opposition being waged from Senator J. Milton Teahjay against the nomination of Cllr. Frank Musah Dean as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe who has requested for early retirement due to health reasons, documents in possession of The Analyst have proven that Justice Nagbe is indeed incapacitated to serve on the Supreme Court due to ill-health and has therefore requested for early retirement.
In a letter to President George Manneh Weah Dated December 21, 2023, Justice Nagbe said he has not been within the bailiwick of Liberia for eight months, to seek medical attention for his ill health, an assertion also confirmed by the Chief Justice, her honor, Cllr. Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, who said Justice Nagbe’s long absence from the Court hinders the disposition of many cases due to the lack of quorum.
In a letter addressed to President Weah, Justice Nagbe presented his compliment to the Liberian leader and requested an early retirement from the bench of the Supreme Court where he has been working since 2018 when he was appointed from his senatorial position.
“If you can recall, Excellency, I have been out of the bailiwick of Liberia for a period of eight (8) months to seek medical attention for my ill health, but it has now become evident that the healing process to my recovery will take a longer period than expected and therefore, cannot allow my physical presence in chamber of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia in the soonest, hence my request for an early retirement,” the justice wrote in his letter.
He said, “Let me first expressed gratitude for your preferment of me in 2018 to join other Liberian citizens to serve on the Supreme Court Bench of our Country to provide access to justice and strengthen the rule of law in our republic and secondly, your enormous support, especially your financial assistance to help me seek medical attention abroad during this difficult period of my life,” invoking the blessing of God on the President.
When President Weah, upon receipt of the letter from Justice Nagbe accepted it and acted upon the same with the appointment of Justice Minister Dean, Senator Teahjay raised an objection claiming that the request of Justice Nagbe did not meet a requirement to be replaced and that the nomination of Cllr. Dean should have not arisen at all.
However, a communication from Chief Justice Yuoh provided more clarity and justified the request made by Justice Nagbe for early retirement. She said the request for Justice Nagbe for early retirement for reason of ill-health is within the pale of law which grants an associate justice of the Supreme Court the right to honorably retire to private life.
“This finds precedence in the case of late Chief Justice Johnny N. Lewis, who for reason of poor health was retired before the age of 70,” Chief Justice Youh buttressed her justification with an example of a precedent that has been set.
The Chief Justice indicated to the Presidency that the retirement of Justice Nagbe automatically created a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench for which she noted Judicial Canon Two provided that in such event the vacancy remains until by appointment through the regular process of nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate.
Political pundits who spoke to The Analyst are of the opinion that the objections being raised by some people especially Senator Teahjay have no legal reliance beyond the sentiments being expressed, adding that besides the failure of those who are opposing the nomination to back their position with constitutional or legal reliance, the assertion that the nomination was ill-timed does not make any sense.
“I think they are not being logical or legal in their argument because there was a precedent set in the late Johnny Lewis’s case who retired before the age of 70 and that the issue of the nomination not being well timed does not make any sense at all. Let us leave sentiment out of the whole thing and allow the provision of the constitution or law to take its due course. Let us accept Justice Nagbe’s retirement/resignation request and confirm Cllr. Frank Musah Dean as the new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court”, a pundit who did not want to be identified in the papers said.