General News of Monday, 2 September 2013
A law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Ernest Kofi Abotsi, has charged his "colleagues at the Bar" to be decorous in their analysis of the Supreme Court judgement on the election petition.
On Saturday August 31, 2013, key figures from the sides of both the Petitioners and Respondents made very critical comments on the Supreme Court's August 29 ruling dismissing the petition challenging the validity of the election of President John Mahama at the December 2012 Presidential poll.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, the Executive Director of the pro-opposition policy think tank, Danquah Institute in a Facebook post, described the ruling as farcical and "a corrupt judgement, and I say so without apologies”.
Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel for the Third Respondent, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), also said on TV3, that Justice Anin-Yeboah, one of the nine Supreme Court Judges that adjudicated the matter, allowed his political biases to cloud his judgment.
Mr. Tsikata said Justice Anin-Yeboah consistently took an opposing stance against the NDC’s arguments and position as far as the case was concerned.
But speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show on Monday, the law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law School, cautioned lawyers who comment on the judgment to exercise circumspection.
He said although the panel of nine Judges may not be in place to summon contemnors before them, because the Judges' mandate had expired, the court as an institution continues to exist and can still punish people whose comments are deemed to scandalise it and bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
"It is common for lawyers to be dissatisfied or unhappy with the outcome of court decisions, for that matter verdict, [because] the whole law process is about...competition between lawyers...so it is totally natural for lawyers not to be happy about the outcome whenever a court makes a pronouncement. “Having said that, it is unusual and it is totally unacceptable for lawyers to use words that are deemed to be unprofessional and in a manner that taints the reputation of the judiciary," the law lecturer stated.
He noted that every lawyer is an officer of the Court hence they must desist from using words such as 'corrupt', and words that scandalise the reputation of the Court "without applying the regular processes for determining whether or not a Judge has indeed misconducted himself".
He noted that the reason why the Supreme Court had been given so much power is to ensure its ruling is respected stressing that without those powers there would be chaos in the country.
"As we speak nobody has brought any evidence tending to show that any Judge has been corrupt or has acted in ways that detracts from the mandate and function of the Judge at the highest level," Kofi Abotsi said.
He admonished lawyers to use decorous words "if they want to engage in analysis of the Court's judgement or otherwise basically just stay away from making pronouncements [about ruling]."
He also reminded lawyers that "it is not only dangerous, but it totally undermines the mandate and jurisdiction of the Court going forward", for senior lawyers such as those cited to make comments that bring the court's integrity into opprobrium.