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Opinions of Saturday, 6 July 2013

Columnist: Akwah, Nana

Coming Events Cast Their Shadows ....

.... Before Them And Understanding Contempt Of Court

To be born with an eye for discernment or with an ear for a true quality of sound can be both a blessing and a curse. Discernment can be a blessing since good judgment and insight can guide to correct decisions. It helps us to identifying many imposters with whom one comes into contact. It may also be a curse as those same imposters and hypocrites soon come to realize that there are certain persons who will not be easily fooled.

Nor will such persons sell their principles for a mess of pottage – this has been the principle with which I have lived through the six –plus decade life of mine, without blinking an eye to the principles.

Now, in particular, Ghana needs this strength and the ability to discern truth from falsehood. As a people we must learn to discern political trickery and sleight of hand from the genuine. It is never difficult if one were to make up your mind concerning truthfulness and falsehood by measuring them against the long shadows which they cast before them – in other words, by studying the past!

Usually events that are going to happen can be detected by certain signs. During the past, people believed in good and bad omens which preceded events. In nature also, we can get that signs and that certain signs do occur before an on-coming event. The sky gets darkened with black clouds just before rain.

Fishermen are experts in sensing a storm before it strikes. Similarly, animals, wild as well as domestic have an ability to detect certain signs of changes in nature. An argument between two people may culminate in a fight.

As history points out political instability and dissatisfaction among people have often materialized in civil disobedience or strife later. If we carefully study the day to day events, we can see that all of them are connected with one another.

This is the basic rule of nature. Many religious books state the same.

Shrewd politicians always watch carefully the social changes. They form their political strategy by analyzing those changes.

What most of us fail to realize in life stems from our blind reasoning and perceptions. We are not able to discern from the thin line of criticizing and insult. We fail to grip the import that analyzing and genuine criticism is different from hiding behind a smoke screen to insult.

Laws on Contempt of Court are such that one has to mindful always when summoned to answer issues relating to contempt.

The need to have a clear understanding will certainly help in averting the situation when you are cited for criminal contempt.

Many are complaining that they can’t draw the distinction between what is Contempt of Court, Genuine Criticism or Being Insulted?

Contempt of court relates to any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court function or order. Any misconduct in the presence of a judicial system or any action that blatantly interferes with a court’s ability to administer justice or a court ruling is considered in contempt of court. Any action that flagrantly insults the dignity of the judge or the broader court system is also considered contempt of court.

It will also be proper to have a clear understanding and the differences between Criminal and Civil Contempt of Court:

A violation of contempt of court is punishable by fine or imprisonment or a combination of the two. Criminal and civil contempt of court are distinctively classified. On the other hand, the distinction is oftentimes unclear and ambiguous.

More often than not, the distinction is made clear if a judge feels that a party has improperly questioned or ignored the court’s authority. In this occurrence, the judge has the authority to declare the defiant party in contempt of court.

Criminal contempt of court comes about when the alleged party deliberately interferes with the court’s ability to function properly. Typically these actions, such as yelling at the judge or acting inappropriately in the courtroom, take place directly in front of the judge presiding over the case.

A civil contempt of court charge occurs, in contrast, when the contemnor willfully disobeys a court order. The distinction between the two charges is that a civil contempt of court charge occurs outside the judge’s immediate realm of observation. As a result, in order to be convicted of a civil contempt of court charge, evidence must be presented to the judge that signifies an outside action which violated a court order.

What to do if you are charged with Criminal Contempt of Court?

As stated before, a criminal contempt of court charge occurs directly in front of a judge, meaning the action was observed by the judge himself. As a result of this direct action, there is little an individual can do to fight a criminal contempt of court charge. In addition, because the offense takes place in the courtroom, it is assumed that the violating party is already represented by a legal professional.

Moving further, what is the difference between constructive criticism and being insulted? How do you accept constructive criticism? Without feeling like you are being talked about?

My answer is simple. Insults are derogatory, constructive criticism is just pointing out an issue you have, along with advice on how to better improve yourself or the situation you are in.

It depends on who is giving the criticism and how they are giving it. Often, insults are disguised as ‘constructive criticism’ and the critic gets rather put out when the recipient catches them out being horrible.

Therefore, in our attempt to question the rationale behind Ken Kuranchie and Steven Atubiga incarceration, we must forewarn ourselves concerning the legal implications.

It is for this reason that I entreat well-meaning citizens to pay scant attention to the speeches and statements that sought to create “heroes from stupidity”. Which is been crafted by some deteriorating, inflamed and perverse youth parading in the corridors of political platforms seeking for recognition.

Those providing untenable supporting urging and solidarity for these anarchists have lost touch, sincerely, have lost touch with reason. Ken Kuranchie demonstrated how untruthful he is when he posed as not understanding the words used in his questioning the Supreme Court Order that sanctioned Sammy Awuku.

For my part the events which spoke the loudest were not within the walls of Supreme Court but outside! I refer of course to those uncontrollable slide mouths.

The most discomforting things of all however, are the statement emanating from some social commentators who in one vain are preaching virtues and at the same wanting to condone anarchy in the name of Freedom of Expression. What an irony!

Bearing in mind the details of the incidents and also keeping in mind the continuous counsel and cautioning that precipitated the 24th June 2013, “final touchline order; the supreme court demonstrated ample tolerance and accommodated all manner of aspersions and castigating that inundated the Court which sought to cast doubt on its integrity for the sake of peace.

The careless and preposterous statements by the Daily Guide and from the President prior to the “Final Touchline Court Order” were cause for alarm.

The inevitable was lurking and groping to be unveiled.

Finally, it is not that difficult if one were to judge truthfulness and falsehood by measuring these against the long shadows which they cast before them – in other words, by studying the past!