You are here: HomeNews2011 06 01Article 209239

General News of Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Source: The Herald

CJ Shifts Blame

The Judicial Service has reacted to reports that Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, was sitting on a case of judicial misconduct, involving a judge and female lawyer saying that its verdict has delayed because the Disciplinary Committee of Judicial Council is waiting on the Court of Appeal to make a pronouncement on an aspect of the US$ 1 million case.

According to the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex Acheampong, the case before the Court of Appeal, was sent there by Charles Zwennes, lawyer for the international company, which petitioned the Chief Justice against the conduct of an Accra High Court Judge, for handing the company a raw deal.

The Judicial Secretary who spoke to an Accra-based radio station, Joy FM, said until the verdict of the Court of Appeal is delivered; the findings of the Disciplinary Committee of Judicial Council would have to wait.

According to the radio station, an office of the international company called to complain about how they were duped of over US$1 million, with the particular judge also awarding cost of GH¢100,000 in favor of the lawyer he is suspected to have connived with.

Interestingly, the station is refusing to mention the names of those involved.

The Herald has, however, launched investigation into finding names of the said judge, the female lawyer, the international company represented by Mr. Charles Zwennes, as well as the person who duped the company of the whopping US$ 1 million.

The female lawyer, who is said to have recently got married and is expecting a baby, according to our information, was on the phone with the said judge as late as 2am. Additional information available to the paper claims that the female lawyer, soon after the alleged deal, changed her name to hide her identity.

The law firm she works for is said to be owned by a prominent Member of Parliament. What is not yet clear is whether the lady lawyer described as fair in complexion, gave the judge part of the money.

Mr. Charles Zwennes of Gaisie -Zwennes -Hughes and Co. last week told Joy News a disciplinary action is yet to be taken since the complaint was made in November 2009.

But the Judicial Service has serious reservations about suggestions of feet-dragging in dealing with the complaint. Justice Acheampong told Joy News the matter was referred to the disciplinary committee of the service who met the concerned parties.

He said when Mr. Zwennes, explained the basis for his petition, “it became clear” that one of the allegations he raised was grounds for him to file an appeal at the Appeals Court against the ruling.

Justice Acheampong said Mr. Zwennes was, therefore, advised to pursue the case at the Appeals Court, and report to the committee the final determination of the court, as it is legally required, which all parties consented to.

“We are ready and waiting, when the Court of Appeal takes a decision on the matter, then if there is any outstanding issue, the disciplinary committee of the Judicial Council is ready to do whatever is expected of it”.

“So the matter is not being delayed by the disciplinary committee.”

Analysts have said that the explanation by the Judicial Secretary that the Disciplinary Committee of the Judicial Council is waiting on the Court of Appeal to pronounce judgment on an aspect of the case is unsatisfactory.

They explained that should, the Court of Appeal overturn judgment in favour of the company, Mr. Charles Zwennes is most likely to abandoned the petition against the judge, and hence the issue of his misconduct might go unaddressed.

The analysts insisted that any serious-minded body ready to address the issue of misconduct and corruption, would have interdicted the judge said upon his admission that, indeed, he had been in telephone conversation with the applicant’s lawyer before and immediately after each court hearing.

The interdiction would have sounded a strong warning to him that such acts would not be tolerated, rather than allowing him to keep hold on to his job, and perhaps perpetrating more of in such acts of misconduct.