February 25, 2024

UP, Senate to Appear before Supreme Court for Argument into Writ of Prohibition

AGAINST CLLR. DEAN

Monrovia, Liberia – The Unity Party has filed a petition for the writ of prohibition against Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., the President Nominee for the Office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. The Supreme Court has set aside Tuesday, January 9, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. to hear legal arguments in the case.

The scheldue for the case’s argument was released by the High Court on Wednesday, January 3, 2023. The matter will be considered on Tuesday, January 9, 2023, in the Court’s 17th Day Session, along with a number of other cases, including cases pertaining to election matters.

The Unity Party filed a sixteen-count petition with the court prior to the case’s assignment. Through its legal representatives, the UP asked the court to stop Cllr. Musa Dean from being confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

The Unity Party claimed in its petition that on November 21, 2023, President George M. Weah issued Executive Order 123, establishing the Joint Presidential Transitional Team (JPTT), which is made up of members of his cabinet and a team chosen by President-elect Joseph Nyumah Boakai. The purpose of the JPTT is to ensure a seamless transfer of power from President Weah’s departing government to Joseph Boakai’s incoming government.

According to the petitioner, President Weah issued and publicised a directive on December 18, 2023, prohibiting hiring new employees, taking out loans, and making payments of more than $10,000 USD.

On December 26, 2023, just 26 days prior to President-elect Joseph Boakai’s inauguration, President Weah nominated Cllr. Musa Dean to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice. Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe had written to the Chief Justice requesting an early retirement.

While it is true that Article 54(c) of the 1986 Constitution gives the Senate the authority to name the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the Unity Party contends that this was not intended. The Constitution did not provide for the current President to appoint an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court after losing the presidential election at the end of his or her term. It also put a stop to new employment and provided a transitional team to ensure a smooth transition of power to the President-elect. Because of this, it is undoubtedly against best practice for President Weah to have Cllr Dean replace Associate Justice Nagbe under the current circumstances and at this particular moment.

The petitioner further claimed that neither retirement nor a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench would result from Justice Joseph Nagbe’s December 21, 2023, letter to Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh requesting an early retirement.

Unity Party additionally contends that the President is not authorised to reply to Justice Nagbe’s letter asking for an early retirement because it is directed to the Chief Justice rather than the President.

The Party adds that the early retirement request is being made in accordance with Article 13 Section 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law. that matters arising from the Judiciary Law are subject to review by the Judiciary rather than the Executive Branch.

“According to the Liberian Constitution of 1986, the Chief Justice, Associate Justices, and Judges may all retire. According to Article 72(b) of the Liberian Constitution (1986), judges of subordinate courts of record and the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court are to retire at the age of seventy. However, a justice or judge who has reached that age may stay in office for as long as is necessary to enable them to render judgement or carry out any other judicial duty with regard to proceedings they presided over before reaching that age. It defies sense to allow such a letter of request to retire and leave a vacancy on the Supreme Court bench that would support Cllr. Musa Dean’s nomination.”

The Unity Party further contends that the President is not authorised to reply to Justice Nagbe’s letter asking for an early retirement because it is directed to the Chief Justice rather than the President.

The Party adds that the early retirement request is being made in accordance with Article 13 Section 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law. that matters arising from the Judiciary Law are subject to review by the Judiciary rather than the Executive Branch.

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