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General News of Monday, 25 October 2010

Source: The Herald Newspaper

The Judiciary’s Kitchen Where Cases Are Cooked

Inside the Supreme Court is a three-man team of judges romantically linked to the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Members (pictured) of the team were handpicked by Chief Justice, Georgina T. Wood, and with her backing, the team sits to vet cases and selects a judge before whom a case should be placed for an expected outcome.

It consists of Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse, Justice Anin-Yeboah and Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie. The three, got promoted to the Supreme Court bench by President John Agyekum Kufuor with the speed of light, barely had they settled on the Court of Appeal bench.

The creation of the committee is hailed, but its structure and membership is not popular among the superior court judges, because according to insiders it lacks balance and does not represent the hierarchy of the court system. It is a composition of only relatively junior Supreme Court judges.

The argument among very senior members of the bench is that the clique has been the basis of the heavy criticism with claims of judicial chicanery and bias. They described the absence of Justice William Atuguba, the most senior Supreme Court judge in the country and also deputy Chief Justice, by virtue of constitutional provision, as rather intriguing.

Incidentally, the three judges were promoted onto the Supreme Court bench in 2008 and vetted by Parliament on the same day, together with a lady, Ms. Rose Constance Owusu, who was brought in at the last hour to replace a rather strong-willed judge (name withheld). His ordeal will be revealed in another edition of The Herald.

*Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse*

Enter! Jones Dotse, who is chairman of the committee, is widely known to be a strong NPP man in Kpando in the Volta Region where he hails from and Ho, where he spent most of his adult working life as lawyer in private practice, until he joined the bench from Dick Anyaadi Dotse Chambers in Accra.

Indeed, he is said to have made his way onto the bench as a result of his connections with ex-President Kufuor. He is a devout Roman Catholic with an infinite ambition of becoming Chief Justice, someday in the future.

There are conflicting reports over which portfolio Justice Dotse held in the NPP while in Ho. While some say he was strong and active card-bearing member of the party, others insist that he was NPP Regional Secretary in the 90s.

Justice Dotse used his influence in the Volta Regional capital, and together with Mr. Tommy Amematekpor, an advisor to ex-President Kufuor, on what some have claimed to be on spiritual affairs, they both actively campaigned for Mr. Kufuor to become president. The three, remained friends throughout the Kufuor presidency, and that friendship has prevailed till date.

Justice Dotse was the one who wrongfully jailed Kwabena Amaning aka Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass, for 15 years each, on narcotic drug-related offences in the wake of the MV Benjamin cocaine loss in what legal minds have argued was orchestrated to give the Kufuor regime a plus that, indeed, it was fighting the menace of cocaine which had engulfed the country at the time.

He badly indicted the former Director of Police Operations, Kofi Boakye, in his judgment which was later shredded, on appeal, on the basis that a mere tape recording is not enough evidence to secure a court conviction.

His law firm, Mawulorm Chambers, according to the party insiders, was actively used to plan and execute lots of party agendas. Justice Dotse ceded the chamber to his boys, Mr. Stephen Dzanku and Ernest Gaewu, when he moved from Ho to Accra. His law firm is located behind the Goil Filling Station in Ho, within the Ho Central Constituency.

He was also a close friend of the late Chief Justice, George Kingsley Acquah and the late Justice Theodore Kwame Adzoe, when they were both in Ho serving as a High Court Judge and president of the Volta Regional Bar Association respectively, with Mr. Dotse serving as Secretary to the Volta Regional Bar Association.

When he moved to Accra from Ho, he teamed up with his lifelong friend, Dick Anyaadi, and together, they formed what became known as Dick Anyaadi, Dotse and Associates, a law firm still located on the Fourth Floor of Total House, formerly, Mobil House, adjacent to the Cedi House in Accra.

Mr. Justice Dotse has also been a board member of Awudome Secondary School (Awusco) at Tsito in the Volta Region. He did his Sixth Form at Accra Academy, after his Form Five at Kpando Secondary School, also in the Volta Region. He was also the president of the Volta Region branch of the Rotary Club.

*Justice Anin-Yeboah*

Justice Anin-Yeboah comes from Nkawie in the Ashanti Region, ex-President Kufuor’s home town.

Family sources reveal that his wife, Justice Avril Anin-Yeboah, who is a High Court judge in Tema, recently cautioned him to be mindful of another member (name withheld) of the committee who goes about demanding monies from interested parties in order to get judgment in their favour.

Justice Anin-Yeboah, was described as a very hardworking person, but has a problem separating his political inclination from his judicial independence. Not much was extracted on him except that he once served in the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua, as a High Court judge.

A typical career judge.

*Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie*

Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie got his promotion on the bench not long after overturning the ruling of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) against Dr. Richard Anane over his adulterous affair with his American woman, Alexandra O’Brian.

His legendary quick rise to the highest pinnacle of the bench did not please the Ghana Bar Association as they thought he had lots to learn before being promoted onto the Supreme Court bench.

He spent some years in the Volta Regional capital, Ho, working with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

Many say after whitewashing Dr. Anane, Justice , a cousin of Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie of Radio Gold and the Office of the Vice President, John Mahama, he still receives Christmas hampers from the Anane family yearly.

Elements close to that family constantly boast that the ex-minister was very influential in getting President Kufuor, his political Godfather, to put him (Bonnie) on the Supreme Court bench as a pleasant reward for rehabilitating Dr. Anane.

The setting of the committee was the brainchild of the late Chief Justice, George K. Acquah, following uproar and claims that lawyers were influencing Court Registrars to put their cases before particular judges who were either their schoolmates or very weak to be manipulated with money. However, the committee under Chief Justice Wood, has assumed an injurious role.

Legal minds The Herald spoke to were of the view that handpicking only Supreme Court judges to be members of the committee was not good enough and that a mixture of judges from the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, nominated by the Magistrates and the Judges Association, can hold the Scale of Justice in balance. More to come