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Opinions of Friday, 19 May 2017

Columnist: Ace Kojo Annan Ankomah

Evidence (even false evidence) beats truth if truth has no evidence

And so I am probably going to disappoint myself and several other people with what I am going to write about the Kumasi Delta discharge. But my head must speak on this matter, and not my heart.

I can remember the several times that I have had to look at the potential client sitting across the table, willing, prepared and able to pay anything for the case but having to tell him/her that "I am sorry we don't have a case. We don't have the evidence to back your case up. We can sue, but we will lose. I am sorry about your situation.

But the reality is that the law doesn't really care about your truth. The law only cares about what you can prove. If what you can prove, leads us to the truth, that would be perfect. But for the most part, your real truth alone may not win the day if it isn't backed by evidence. Evidence, even false evidence, beats the truth if truth has no evidence." Or words to that effect.

Sometimes we are able to build the case from this weak position. But more often than not, it really is a dead end. Sad story. Sadder: a broken person just walked out of my office. Saddest: money just walked out of my pocket even before it entered.

Guys, trying a criminal case isn't a walk in the park. In civil matters, the case is proved based on the "preponderance of evidence", which simply means "whose evidence has the greater weight? Who has the more convincing evidence? Whose evidence is PROBABLY accurate or the truth?"

But in a criminal trial, the standard of proof is way higher, way bigger and way heavier: "beyond reasonable doubt." This is based on the strong presumption that the accused is "innocent until PROVEN guilty."

To rebut that presumption, the prosecution's evidence must meet this standard: that we cannot derive any other logical reason or explanation from the facts, but that the accused committed the crime. Thus any doubt is resolved in favour of the accused and often, all the lawyer has to do for the accused to walk, is to raise doubts.

I have read the memo signed by the Senior State Attorney in Kumasi. It was a cry for help. She was basically saying "guys, we got zilch. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zero. Nobody." Can I break it down some more? She said the case presented to her had worse chances than that of an ice cube in hell.

It wasn't her job or that of the Attorney-General to go investigating the matter and fishing for evidence. That is the work of the police. If the police give you nothing, you can't do jack. Guys, a case is only as good as the evidence that backs it.

So let the police get back on the beat and bring something that ties some people to the offence. Till then, leave the AG and the Senior State Attorney alone.

You guys watch way too much crime and legal soaps on TV. This ain't no NCIS, Law and Order, LA Law, Matlock or Suits.

I asked about the basis (es) on which the police arrested the now discharged 8. I was told "intelligence". Sorry guys, the two words might rhyme but the name of the game is EVIDENCE, not INTELLIGENCE.

If you don't derive EVIDENCE from your INTELLIGENCE and convert your INTELLIGENCE into EVIDENCE, don't blame the AG or judge.

And, we must move from the normal "arrest=>remand=>investigate" regime to an "investigate=>arrest=>remand" regime.