By O’Neill A.R. Philips
The Minister of Justice and Dean of the Supreme Court of the Republic Liberia, Counselor Frank Musa Dean has expressed dismay over provision of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia that calls for the retirement of Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia by age 70 years.
According to the Liberian Constitution Article 72 (b) among other things states: “The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy; provided, however, that a justice or judge who has attained that age may continue in office for as long as may be necessary to enable him to render judgment or perform any other judicial duty in regard to proceedings entertained by him before he attained that age.”
Cllr. Dean believed that the constitutional provision seeking the retirement of Justices at the age of 70 does not commensurate with current day reality, and noted that the need to revisit or repeal the article is paramount to conform to present day reality.
In an effort to address the situation, the Justice Minister and Attorney General of Liberia said there is a need to have a national dialogue aimed at revisiting the age clause in the 1986 constitution.
“Our legal system is patterned after that of the United States in which jurisdiction, Justices serve until they die, resigned, retire, or impeached, Minister Dean recalled.
Justice Minister Dean added that the 70 years retirement provision for Judges, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices may not be realistic today, and needs to be amended while requesting a constitutional provision of article 72 (b).
According to him, the older the justices become, the more wiser or proactive they become in adjudicating cases in a fair and transparent manner and will also be best suited to contribute immensely to the judicial reform process of the country.
The Liberian Justice Minister then proposed the setting up of a Board or Counsel of retired Justices of the Supreme Court that will serve as a professional and enabling legal pedestal national in the framework to sustain and buttress national development through the application of legal reforms and peace building.