An Ad-Hoc committee of the House of Representatives has been given three weeks to report to plenary on a petition seeking the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh before the august body.
The petition to impeach Justice Ja’neh was submitted to the House by Montserrado County Representatives Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah on Tuesday.
The petition by the two lawmakers against the Associate Justice cites “proved misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, fraud, misuse of power and corruption” as reasons why the Associate Justice should be impeached.
As prayed for in the petition, the two lawmakers urged the lower House to order an immediate investigation against Justice Ja’neh and have him subsequently impeached, ousted and removed from the Supreme Court Bench of Liberia for reasons contained in the petition.
Among several counts as enshrined in the impeachment petition, the lawmakers contended that as elected representatives of their respective districts, they are legally entitled to openly challenge or demand the prosecution or impeachment, removal or dismissal of any elected or appointed public official for the misuse or abuse of power, corruption and misconduct, among other infractions.
Referencing Article 71 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the petitioners cited that the code provides the fundamental framework upon which a judge or justice can be impeached.
They contended that Justice Ja’neh, unmindful of his judicial power and authority and the danger of debasing the respect ascribed, has committed a serious official misconduct by engaging in the wanton and unsavory exercise of his purported judicial discretion far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues simply to satisfy his personal ego.
The petitioners alleged that at the detriment of others as was exhibited in the controversial Code of Conduct debate just to unduly hurt, shamefully impede and grossly frustrate the administration of justice and even though his colleagues have moved away from such controversial judiciary bluster for the sake of sanity, Justice Ja’neh continues to behave as if he was a law unto himself.
In line with Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution, “the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior.
It further states: “They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of the office or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.”
Arguing further, the petitioners stated, that the constitutional guarantee of immunity to judges and justices as enshrined in Article 71 is not absolutely free, as the immunity becomes constitutionally sacrosanct when justices express views or opinions or render judgments or rulings on matters of law by applying both statutory and customary laws in accordance with the standards enacted by the legislature.