Cheapoo (1942_2020) served in the late 1970s as a Senator from Grand Gedeh County. At that time, he also served as the head counsellor 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. However, Cheapoo was 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 Harper S. Bailey whom he stated had tried to bribe him. Amid the resulting controversy, he accused President Doe of unconstitutionally releasing the culprits in question. As the controversy grew, 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 02 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). Additionally, Cllr. Cheapoo will be remembered for his struggles and efforts for multi party democracy in Liberia as he was persecuted by the political establishments he served, impeached by two different ‘Assembly’ of the Liberian legislatures, showing what appeared to be a non-ethnic cleavage to his politics, since his advocacies and persuasions while in office were against two different parties and ideologies. Accounts say, under what looked to be ’kangaroo court’ by the hegemonic-one party True Wing Party led oligarchy and the military cum-civilian governments of the National Democratic Party administrations, Cheapo was sanctioned as the legislatures of the era according to reports acted against the national interests to undermine and intimidate his person, because of his independence and outspoken personality and convictions.
“Born in Kiteabo, River Gee County, formerly Weebo District of Grand Gedeh County, onto the union of Joseph S. Cheapoo Sampson and Sarah Cheapoo Sampson, Cllr. Cheapoo enrolled at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), where he completed his secondary education and then matriculated to North Carolina Central University, where he graduated with a law degree.”