Chief Justice Raises Her Rescuer Argument To Unknown Date By: Yassah J. Wright

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The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, Sie-A-Nyene G Yuoh, after listening to the motion of rescuer from Unity Party lawyers, she added that the Unity Party lawyers field in their motion to rescue her from presiding over their Prohibition, was field on January 9, 2024, at 1PM. Chief Justice Yuoh said they cannot hear such motion because it was filed on the same day of the prohibition hearing. The Chief Justice of the honorable Supreme Court, noted that the motion of rescuing her from presiding over the case is suspended and will be held at another date which was not called by her in open court. However, Unity Party lawyers filed that Associate Justice,  Joseph Nagbe wrote his resignation letter to the Chief Justice Youh, instead the President of Liberia and by law the Chief Justice is not his employer. The lawyers stated that by her sending the communication to President of Liberia, George M. Weah, she’s in error, so based on that, they are asking her to recuse herself from the bench on sitting over their case. The lawyers in their motion of rescuer stated that the court cannot give advisory opinion, until the issues is raised before them. It can be re-called, Unity Party through the auspices of its chairman, Rev Luther Tarpeh has called for the recusal of Liberia’s Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh from participating in the hearing of the writ of prohibition filed against Associate Justice designate, Cllr Frank Musa Dean.  In the petition filed before the full bench of the Supreme court, the Party called out the Chief Justice for rendering her opinion in the retirement called for by her colleague Associate Justice Joseph N. Nagbe,  who on December 21, 2023, wrote requesting for an early retirement from the Supreme Court’s Bench, due to his poor health conditions. However, the chief Justice in a communication to president Weah contended that the retirement of Justice Nagbe as enshrined in the Judicial law, creates a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Quoting Judicial Canon two, Justice Yuoh narrated that Associate Justice Nagbe case is not the first as the late former chief Justice Johnny Lewis was also early retired before reaching seventy, due to illness.  Judicial Canon two states: ” in the event of any seat of honor on the Supreme Court becoming vacant same shall remain vacant until the vacancy is filled by appointment and such appointee is commissioned and ceremoniously seated” But, sources within the Judiciary says, former Chief Justice Johnny Lewis served the Judiciary for over ten(10)years  before retiring, while Justice Nagbe was appointed in 2018, after the retirement of Cllr Phillip A. Z Banks, making his, a call for resignation. UP’s motion for the recusal of the Chief Justice also underlines her instructions given to President Weah to grant the request of Justice Nagbe for early retirement and to invoke Article 68 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia and to have him replaced. “ In consequences of which justice Yuoh is legally disqualified from participating in the determination of the petition out of which the motion for petition grew” the petition states  According to the UP motion, Justice Yuoh’s alleged advisory letter to the President in respect of the request made by Justice Nagbe is a violation of the separation of powers doctrine as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia . “This Motion is made in good faith and not intended to delay and baffle Justice and therefore Justice Yuoh should recuse herself from sitting and participating in the determination of the petition for the writ of prohibition. “Lawyers representing the Unity Party contend  that  Chief Justice Yuoh’s letter is a legal opinion on a legal matter which is not her duty but that of the Justice Minister, as listed in Section 22.2(c) of the Executive law of Liberia, which specifically confers on the Minister of Justice the duty to furnish opinions as to legal matters and render services requiring legal skills to the President and other agency of the Executive Branch of government.  The motion filed on January 8, comes after the Unity Party through its legal counsels petitioned the supreme court of Liberia requesting the court to review the nomination of Justice Minister Cllr Frank Musa Dean by President George Weah. Cllr Frank Musa Dean was on December 26, 2023, designated as an Associate Justice on the Supreme court’s bench following the early retirement of Justice Joseph Nagbe. Following the Party’s petition, the Justice in Chambers Jamesetta Wolokolie immediately placed a stay order on the confirmation hearing of the president’s nominee, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean who has been nominated to replace Associate Justice Joseph N. Nagbe. The nomination of Cllr Dean was triggered by request from Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, calling for early retirement due to protracted illness. Unity Party argued that section 13.4 (3) of the new judiciary law provides conditions under which a justice, judge, or stipendiary magistrate maybe retire and paid retirement compensation. Section 13.4 ( 3) states ” the law provides that a justice ,judge ,or stipendiary magistrate to qualify for retirement mush have served continuously for 15 years or more in any such judicial capacity and attained the age sixty (60) years or has served or has served continuously for ten years or more in any capacity and has been certified after appropriate medical or mental examination by competent medical authority to have become permanently disabled from performing his duties or who has completed at least 25 years of service. According to the Unity Party, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe became Associate Justice in the year 2018 a period less than ten (10) years and has not occupied or served in any judicial function to quality for retirement. They 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 states. UP added that none of the laws cited made provisions for “early retirement” which the letter of Justice Nagbe has requested. ” Petitioner also say 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 contemplate by our laws.” UP said. They continue as saying, Justice Nagbe having not qualified for retirement under the the laws remains a seated Associate Justice. Hence, there is currently no vacancy on the Supreme court to warrant the nomination of Cllr Frank Musa Dean to the position aforementioned. “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” the Unity Party stated. They further revealed that Section 2.7 of the New Judiciary Law disqualifies a Justice of the Supreme Court from sitting on any case in which he is interested or has made a ruling as a justice presiding in Chambers in connection with an application for remedial or extraordinary writ or which he sat while as a judge of a lower court.

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