Dillions Seeks Mercy At Supreme Court
By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon has taken a back on Judge J. Kennedy Peabody’s April 13, 2022 judgment and has taken a flight at the nation’s highest court for redress.
Senator Dillon on Monday, January 24, 2023, filed a petition before Justice Yusiff D. Kaba, Chamber-Justice of the Supreme Court seeking to overturn April 13, 2022, ruling by the lower court in favor of Liberty Party Chairman Musa H. Bility.
Judge Peabody of the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice at the time denied Senator Dillon’s motion to quash the action filed against him by Musa Bility, but suffered a setback.
Dillon was being prosecuted for Action of Damages for Wrong for Libel and Slander by Attachment,” filed by Musa Bility as a result of Dillon allegedly referring to him as a criminal.
The senator’s legal team at the time filed a motion to quash the lawsuit against him, on grounds that it undermines the function of members of the National Legislature.
In his motion, Senator Dillon contended that Article 42 (a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia provides that members of the Legislature shall be privileged from arrest, while attending, going to, or returning from a session of the Legislature, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
Citing Section 31 of the Legislative Law, the movant also said: “no judge or Magistrate or Justice of the peace or officer who administers the law shall issue or cause to be issued any writ of attachment or another legal precept against any member of the legislature or the member of his family living in his household or his servant or clearest staff during the session, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace.”
The court in its ruling noted that even though the Constitution requires that Legislators who meet its requirement may not be arrested or held for slander and libel, Article 42 as well as the history surrounding the inclusion of the Immunity Clause, members of the Legislature may be excluded from prosecution while performing in line with their legislative duty or function.
According to the court, the only way the legislature can enjoy the Immunity Clause is, if what he is accused of falls within the line of his legislative duty.
“The framers of the constitution would not have given a blanket immunity to the Legislature, that is to say, for a legislature, his staff and family members to commit private wrong to a citizen and go with impunity,” Judge Peabody noted in his ruling.
Accordingly, although the Immunity clause bars action against legislatures doing legislative functions, such does not bar action against a legislature who commits tort to go with impunity and hide behind the construction and the act governing the Legislature.