Recuse Yourself From Today’s Hearing -UP Urges Chief Justice Yuoh of the Supreme Court

By Melvin Jackson 

MONROVIA: As the nation’s highest court braces up today to hear the Petition for Prohibition of Senate Hearing of the nomination of Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean to the Supreme Court as filed by the incoming governing party, the Unity Party has requested Chief Justice Sie-A-Yuoh to recuse herself from participating in the hearing for the Writ of Prohibition filed against the confirmation of Associate Justice designate Cllr Frank Musa Dean.  The Unity Party said their stance is consistent with laws controlling and the principle set against conflict of interest

It can be recalled on January 3, 2023, the Unity Party through its legal counsels petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia for a writ of prohibition and requested the Court to view the nomination of Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean by President George Weah to the Senate for Confirmation on the Supreme Court Bench as Associate. Justice.

Following the party’s petition the Supreme Court of Liberia, the Justice in Chamber, Cllr. Jamesetta Wolokolie, immediately halted the confirmation hearing of presidential nominee Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean who was recently nominated to replace Associate Justice Joseph N. Nagbe.

The nomination of Cllr. Dean was triggered by a request from Associate Justice Nagbe for an early retirement from the Supreme Court Bench due to his illness.

Our judicial correspondent said the Unity Party is requesting Justice Youh is apparently due to her communication to president George Weah, in which she states, “The request by Justice Nagbe for early retirement for reasons 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 [for illness].”

The Unity Party added that Section 13.4 (3) of the New Judiciary Law provides conditions under which a justice, judge, or stipendiary magistrate may retire and be paid retirement compensation.

Section 13.4 ( 3), the soon to be ruling party contended, states that “the law provides that for a justice, judge ,or stipendiary magistrate to qualify for retirement, he/she must have served continuously for 15 years or more in any such judicial capacity and attained the age sixty (60) years.”

The Unity Party lawyers furthered that in the case of illness outside the condition stated above, the Justice must have served continuously for ten years or more in the judicial capacity, and must have been certified after appropriate medical or mental examination by competent medical authority proving to have become permanently disabled from performing his duties or who has completed at least 25 years of service.

Accordingly, the Unity Party said Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe became Associate Justice in the year 2018, a period less than ten (10) years since he assumed duties at the Supreme Court and has not occupied or served in any judicial function that will support the request for early retirement.

The UP lawyers maintained that the purported request for early retirement and the granting of same by the president is void and of no legal effect for reason stated above.

The movant Party added that none of the laws cited made provisions for “early retirement” which the letter of Justice Nagbe has requested.

“Petitioner also says that Justice Nagbe, having been appointed and commissioned as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2018, does not and cannot qualify for retirement in 2023 as contemplated by our laws.”

Justice Nagbe, having not qualified for retirement under the movant party, remains a seated Associate Justice. “Hence, there is currently no vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench to warrant the nomination of Cllr Frank Musa Dean to the position aforementioned,” the Unity Party argued.

“For the Liberian Senate to honor a request from the outgoing President to hold confirmation of Cllr Frank Musa Dean to fill a non-existing vacancy is unconstitutional,” according to the Unity Party.

The party furthered that Section 2.7 of the New Judiciary Law disqualifies another Justice to be nominated and confirmed on the Supreme Court Bench, adding, “We are of the opinion that unless a justice of the Supreme Court had expressed his views or opinion on the merit of the case before it reach the Supreme Court on appeal, he/she is not qualified to sit when it comes up for review.”

UP said the party also relies on Article 3 of the Liberian Constitution which states that consistent with the principle separation of powers, checks and balances, no person holding office in one of the branches should hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the two (2) branches except as otherwise provided in the constitution, apparently referring to the fact the Cllr. Dean is still the Minister of Justice and cannot be engaging in confirmation activity for the Supreme Court Bench while he still serves as Justice Minister.

“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, Movant prays for recusal of Your Honor, Sie-A Nyene G. Yuoh, Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, from sitting and participating in the determination of the petition for a Writ of Prohibition out of which the Motion grew and grant into Movant any other and further relief as the law and justice demand in the premises” the Unity Party submitted to the High Court.

The hearing into the petition for the writ of Prohibition as filed by the Unity Party to the Supreme Court is scheduled for hearing today.

1 Comment
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