Judge Klah Escapes Impeachment
Resigns After Supreme Court Found Him Guilty Of Bribery
Associate Judge Richard Klah, formerly of the Commercial Court of Montserrado County, has resigned days after the Supreme Court of Liberia found him guilty of soliciting bribe in a case he presided over, a reliable judicial source revealed on Wednesday.
However, news of his quitting is yet to be fully verified; but analysts say the shamed legal practitioner could be escaping possible impeachment by the Legislature for his crime as recommended by the Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court’s rendition of the verdict on Judge Klah, it also forwarded him to the Legislature for an impeachment proceeding if the august body sees fit.
The high court had endorsed the suspension of Judge Klah for not less than one year, as proposed by the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC).
Klah, as one of the judges of the Commercial Court, is reported to have received bribe from a party litigant in an action of debt case filed before him.
“Due to the outrageous and reprehensible nature of Judge Klah’s violation of the Judicial Canons as well as our criminal statute, and the need to deterred judicial officers in this jurisdiction from engaging in gross judicial misconduct, we hereby modify the penalty recommended by the JIC from suspension for not less than one year and unanimously hold that his name be forwarded to the House of Representatives to determine whether the act he was found guilty of amounts to impeachable offences,” the high court indicated in its ruling.
It can be recalled that in July this year the JIC indicted Judge Klah for receiving over US$19,000 in bribe from Mousa Abdul Karim, party litigant to a debt case, that was brought before him in return for a ruling in his (Karim’s) favor.
But Judge Klah ruled in favor of defendant Swansey Fallah, the other party litigant, prompting Karim to file a complaint to the JIC.
“Having determined that Judge Klah’s handling of the debt case between Mr. Swansay Fallah and Mr. Mousa Abdul Karim was influenced by gross impropriety and irregularity, the judgment therefrom is hereby declared null void and the trial is ordered de novo,” the Supreme Court further ruled.
Writes Leila Gbati