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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Columnist: Prof. Lungu

Prof Asare totally distorts why Akufo-Addo has no law degree (2)

By Prof. Lungu

We beg o, Prof Kwaku Asare!...This is the 21st Century...Today, it matters that people know and critically understand exactly how and why someone appointed and given two separate and unrelated hats (Attorney General / Minister of Justice) actually qualified for the DUAL HATS and positions, beyond the party card they have in their hand...

Several of your examples turned out to be factually incomplete, wishful thinking, juxtapositions...Significantly, from the point of view of the role of "Minister of Justice" for all the People, the biggest whopper of false and inaccurate evidence you present happens to be the example you provide of Maryland native and Kwame Nkrumah classmate, Justice Thurgood Marshall...Akufo-Addo is no Thurgood Marshall. Akufo-Addo, with all due respect, will never be a Thurgood Marshall....", (Prof Lungu, 6 Oct 16).

We beg o, Prof Asare!

Continuing.....(from Part 1)

Fact is, today, nobody in the US gets to be a qualified lawyer, let alone be appointed US Supreme Court Justice, US Attorney-General, US Attorney, State Attorney-General, County Attorney, City Attorney, etc. who does not have a bona fide "law degree" from an accredited/recognized law school.

In some cases, even courses one took at the undergraduate level (pre-law, as they may say), matters to politicians and administrators who sit at the selection/hiring table(s).

There is an important lesson for Ghana (and Africa) in all of that if anyone cares for good governance and public administration!

Significantly, from the point of view of the role of "Minister of Justice" of all the people, the biggest whopper of false and inaccurate evidence presented by Prof Asare happens to be the example he provided of Maryland native and Kwame Nkrumah classmate, Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993).

Writes Prof Asare:

"...Incidentally, other famous lawyers, such as Justice Marshall of USA, did not have law degrees and qualified under the same apprenticeship model, which the English exported to USA..."

Again, that is a false and an elephant of inaccurate evidence!

Prof Asare's "memory" failed him big time if he was honest with himself and intended to be up-and-up with his readers in the first place.

Regretfully, we must inform Prof Asare that actually, Justice Thurgood Marshall earned a law degree, Magna Cum Laude (with great honor) in fact, in 1934 from Howard University, Washington DC, and began practicing law in Baltimore, Maryland that year.

That same year, he began working for the local branch of the NAACP, winning his first major civil rights/racial discrimination case (Murray v. Pearson), against the state of Maryland, in 1936.

For Ghanaians and Africans, it is always important for us to explain that in 1927, Thurgood Marshall was actually a classmate of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, being among:

"...a remarkably distinguished student body that included...the future president of Ghana; Langston Hughes, the great poet; and Cab Calloway, the famous jazz singer...".

Thurgood Marshall, Howard University Law-degreed civil rights advocate, along with other African Americans, including Professor Leo Hansberry of Howard Univ., were in Ghana in 1960 and did participate in event celebrating Ghana as a Republic, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. (Six years earlier, in 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Thurgood Marshall had won the landmark case that completely demolished the "legal basis for segregation in America").

In 1967, brilliant legal mind and civil rights advocate, Thurgood Marshall, became the first African American ever nominated and confirmed to America's highest court, the Supreme Court.

The challenge for Prof Asare is for him identify as best as he can precisely how many people in America like him, for instance (Black, African American, Mexican American, minority, etc.) completed legal apprenticeship programs under the tutelage of a law office/judge’s chambers that qualified them to actually practice law in the US since the 1934, when Justice Marshall was denied admission to one of the first law schools ever established in the United States, right in his own state of residence. (See our Note 4 below if you need help answering this question).

So, if we may respectfully speak directly to Prof Asare and his readers by humbly channeling the impactful words of former Democratic Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen (debating Republican Senator Dan Quayle in 1988):

Dear Prof Kwaku Asare,

We have a fairly good idea about the record of Baltimore native Thurgood Marhall. The law school at one of our alma mater is named after Thurgood Marshall. Justice Thurgood Marshall attended a predominantly African American law school and did in fact receive a law degree from that school because his own State of Maryland discriminated against him and denied him admission to the flagship University of Maryland Law School in the 1930s.

Thurgood Marshall went on to win the biggest lawsuit in racial discrimination in America, for Africans, for Americans, and for the world. Akufo-Addo is no Thurgood Marshall. Akufo-Addo, with all due respect, will never be a Thurgood Marshall in the eyes of the world!

In conclusion, we will observe now that our critique of Prof Asare is totally consistent with the form and spirit of Prof Asare's own memo to the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Ghana, Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong.

In that recent memo, Prof Asare suggested Brew Appiah Oppong:

"...Review Act 32 to bring it to the 21st century....that...by the GLC (of which Brew Appiah Oppong is a member)...operate under the 1992 Constitution...consistent with Article 296, which calls for fairness, candidness and due process...cognizant of (Brew Appiah Oppong's)...position as the Minister of Justice...in the forefront of promoting respect for rights, the rule of law and the Constitution...".

We are saying that in the 21st century, today, nobody in Ghana should be approved as a lawyer, let alone be appointed State Attorney, Supreme Court Justice, Attorney General, Minister of Justice, etc., who does not have a bona fide "law degree" from an accredited/recognized law school.

Further, those people who claim in part that they have been successful lawyers, or have law degrees, ought to be able to show proof of that academic qualification, particularly if they are applying to be public servants, or, if they in fact were ever appointed public servants based on their claims of qualification as lawyers, even if it occurred in the past.

Dear reader, those are minimum qualifications.

Based on the US example in this case, it is the only the critical path forward for Ghana (and Africa) in this GITK age!

Therefore, Prof Asare's summary at the end of his essay, that "....most old time lawyers in Ghana...were extremely competent...", is patently unproven, unprovable, and unhelpful!

"Extremely competent", compared to what/whom, Prof Asare?

Who says so?

How do you know, sir?

If that was the case, how come Ghana is in such a sorry state with respect to public institutions, governance, and development, when Ghana is so endowed with resources?

Why this seeming mindless and unhelpful distortion?

If we must "explain" and educate, why don't we also attempt to challenge, critically, where it truly matters to all the "People"?

We beg o, Prof Asare!

So it goes, Ghana!

Notes/Sources:

1. The 2-part essay by Dr. Micheal Bokor, titled "Prof. Asare harms Akufo-Addo all the more", Part I/II, show that Prof Asare's essay is all mush with respect to even the larger political questions.

(See at, http://www.modernghana.com/news/725009/prof-asare-harms-akufo-addo-all-the-more-part-i.html); (See at, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Prof-Asare-harms-Akufo-Addo-all-the-more-Part-II-475425)).

2. Prof Kwaku Asare. Prof Kwaku Asare explains why Akufo-Addo has no law degree, ( http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Prof-Kwaku-Asare-explains-why-Akufo-Addo-has-no-law-degree-475025/).

3. The State Bar of California, Admission Requirements, (http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Requirements.aspx).

4. The list of 4 states appears on page on a website called Priceconomics. Suffice to say that one dramatic statement about apprentices is the odds a mighty slim if one does not have a law degree.

In fact, in 2015, "out of 83,963 bar exam takers, only 60 (o.o7%) were apprentices. A mere 17 (28%) succeeded in passing the bar exam and becoming eligible to practice law, compared to 71% for those out of ABA-approved law schools." See at, (https://priceonomics.com/how-to-be-a-lawyer-without-going-to-law-school/).

5. Prof. Kwaku Asare. Prof Kwaku Asare writes open letter to A-G on Law School Entrance Examination, (http://www.ghanaclass.com/prof-kwaku-asare-writes-open-letter-to-a-g-on-law-school-entrance-examination/).

6. Thurgood Marshall Biography, Civil Rights Activist, Supreme Court Justice, Judge, Lawyer (1908–1993), (http://www.biography.com/people/thurgood-marshall-9400241#early-life).

7. Ronald W. Walters, 1993. Pan Africanism in the African Diaspora: An Analysis of Modern Afrocentric Political Movements.

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