Hearing In UP Prohibition Request Against Minister Dean Nomination Set For Tuesday By: Yassah J Wright

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The Supreme Court of Liberia has set Tuesday, January 9, 2023 at 11: 0’Clock as the date  to entertain legal argument in a petition for the writ of prohibition filed by Unity Party against Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., President Nominee for the Office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. The High Court on Wednesday, January 3, 2023 issued an assignment for the argument of the case. The prohibition case is among several election cases to be heard on the 17 the Day Session of the Court on next week Tuesday. Prior to the assignment of the case, the Unity Party through her lawyers including Cllr. Cooper W. Kruah, J. Johnny Momoh, Neto Zarzar Lighe, Moiffie Kanneh, J. Cole Bangalu, Milton D. Taylor, T. Emmanuel Tomah and Emmanuel A. Tulay, Sr. filed a sixteen-count petition to the Court seeking the prohibition of the confirmation of Cllr. Musa Dean for the Office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. In its petition, the Unity Party said subsequent to the election of Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Jeremiah K. Koung as President and Vice President respectively,  President George M. Weah issued Executive Order 123 on November 21, 2023 establishing the Joint Presidential Transitional Team (JPTT) comprising members of his cabinet and a Team designated by the President-elect, Joseph N. Boakai to facilitate smooth transition of powers from the outgoing government of President Weah to the incoming government of Joseph Boakai. The petitioner says that on December 18, 2023, President Weah issued and published a Directive, ordering the freeze on employment, borrowings, payment of any amount beyond ten thousand United States Dollars (USD 10, 000). That notwithstanding the above, President Weah on December 26, 2023, about 26 days to the inauguration of President-Elect Joseph Boakai nominated Cllr. Musa Dean as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe who had requested early retirement through  a letter to the Chief Justice. The Unity Party argues that while it is true that Article 54 (c)of the 1986 Constitution grants the authority to nominate with the consent of the Senate appoint Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the Constitution did not envisage that the current President having lost the Presidential election at the end of his/her tenure, set up a transitional team for the smooth transfer of power to the President-Elect and placed moratorium on new employment would appoint an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; accordingly, the nomination of Cllr. Dean by President Weah to replace Associate Justice Nagbe given the circumstances and timing is certainly against best practice. Petitioner further stated that the December 21, 2023 letter from Justice Joseph Nagbe to Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh requesting for an early retirement on ground of ill health doesn’t in itself constitute retirement or create a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench. “Retirement of the Chief Justice, Associate Justices and Judges is clearly defined by the Constitution of Liberia (1986). Article 72 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia (1986) provides:” The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall retired at the age of seventy; provided, however, that a justice or judge who has attained that age may continue in office as long as may be necessary to enable him/her to render judgment or perform any other judicial duty in regard to proceedings entertained by him/her before he/she attained that age. By no stretch of logic can such letter of request to be permitted to be permitted to retire create a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench to warrant a nomination of Cllr. Musa Dean,” stated the Unity Party. The petitioner further argues that the letter from Justice Nagbe requesting early retirement is addressed to the Chief Justice and not the President and hence the President cannot be responding to same.  The Party says further that the request for early retirement is pursuant to Article 13 Section 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law. That issues growing out of the Judiciary Law are cognizable before the Judiciary and not the Executive Branch.

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