Another prominent Liberian legal minds and former Chief Justice of Liberia, Cllr. Chea Cheapoo Sr., is dead, according to family sources.
Chea Job Cheapoo, Sr. born 1942, as the 15th Chief Justice of Liberia from July 1987 until his impeachment and removal from office on December 2 of that year, he also served in the late 1970s as a Senator from Grand Gedeh County.
The late Cheapoo also served as lead lawyer for the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), an opposition party later outlawed by President William Tolbert. In early 1980, he served as a spokesman for its successor, the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).
Following the overthrow of the Tolbert government in a 1980 coup, Cheapoo was appointed Attorney General in April 1980 under the People’s Redemption Council regime, but was however removed from his position and arrested in September 1981 after being accused of stockpiling arms without permission of the PRC.
Following the resignation of Chief Justice James N. Nagbe in June 1987, Cheapoo was appointed by President Samuel Doe as Chief Justice, soon after taking office, he was accused of illegally ordering the arrest of a probate judge and his wife, Harper S. Bailey and Muna Stubblefield, whom he stated had tried to bribe him with $2,000.
Amid the resulting controversy, he accused President Doe of unconstitutionally releasing the couple in question, but he submitted to President Doe his resignation on 10 November 1987, but Doe rejected it and called for him to be punished with the removal of his citizenship. Consequently, he was impeached by the House of Representatives later in the month, and the Senate convicted him and removed him from office on 2 December on charges of violating the Constitution while in office. The vote was nearly unanimous; only David Menyongai of Margibi County voted to acquit.
Cheapoo was the first government official to be impeached in Liberia’s history. Shortly after his deposition, he was arrested on a charge of defaming President Doe, but he received substantial popular support: he was cheered by crowds of commoners as he went to trial, and the Montserrado County bar association voted to boycott Judge Bailey’s courtroom until his removal.
Cheapoo later participated in the 1997 general elections as the standard bearer of a reconstituted Progressive People’s Party (PPP). As the party’s candidate for president, Cheapoo won only 0.34% of the vote, while the party failed to win any seats in the Legislature. The party did not field candidates in the 11 October 2005 elections, but Cheapoo was once again the party’s candidate for president in 2011, winning 0.3% of the vote and no seats in the legislature.