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Opinions of Saturday, 24 February 2018

Columnist: Arthur K

Lawyers are very important to the development of societies

Some have claimed that what separates us from animals is our adherence to laws. Otherwise, there would be anarchy.

From ancient Greece to modern America, lawyers have led the modernization of their societies--- as teachers, law makers, activists or judges.

Think of the Great ones-- Marshall, Lincoln and Thurgood Marshall in America. John Sarbah and Danquah in the Gold Coast and Ghana. Gandhi and Mandela in South Africa-- Gandhi in India.

Then think of the role of courts.

The work of lawyers in all these spheres leads to promoting the rule of law, improving legal representation and the making of good laws that result in development.

I am a fan of the law and lawyers -- at their best.

Of course, they do awful things too.

They help cloth dictatorships and despotism and crimes with respectability.

And that is why, despite the good they do, lawyers are seldom loved.Remember whatever Hitler and Nkrumah did were legal! It was this side of lawyers that inspired Dick the Butcher, follower of rebel Jack Cade, to declare "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" in Henry VI.

We don't need to kill the lawyers but they are trying our patience.

It is obvious to even simpletons like me that we need more lawyers -- the government does not have enough, they cost too much and barely exist outside Accra and Kumasi. And cases, all cases, including election disputes take too long.

So, why is the General Legal Council against training more lawyers? They have defied the national interest and the Supreme Court in their misguided desire to thwart the ambitions of aspiring lawyers. And some of their excuses have been comedic! Professor Kofi Quashigah, speaking on behalf of the council stated that judges have complained about poor standards in the law profession. Really, Prof? You mean the judges who were not bothered by the Anas tapes were bothered by poor standards amongst lawyers? While bemoaning the quality of lawyers, did they talk about how to rip out corruption in their ranks? If the students who were admitted after "rigorous screening" have only a 20% pass rate, is that not evidence that the system needs overhauling?

What happened to the Supreme Court's intorelance for contempt? Has the GLC not, in the words of Justice Atuguba, "grown horns"? and been contemptuous of the Supreme Court? Let the lawyers in. Let Parliament for once do something right and popular!

Finally, let me land on "American research ". Apparently, the big poobas of the Supreme court have taken umbrage at research by Prof.

Atuguba, suggesting that Supreme court justices side with the parties that appointed them most of the time. The Chief Justice warned darkly of the "dangers of American research " in Ghana's environment.

Madam Chief Justice, is there "American research " as opposed to "Ghanaian research"? What are the differences? Indeed, the findings by Prof. Atuguba echo findings in the US by Posner and others that show that US judges tend to share the judicial philosophy of the parties and Presidents who appoint them.

In the US there are very clear differences in the Judicial philosophies of Republicans and Democrats. The question is whether there are differences in the Judicial philosophies of the NPP and NDC.

If these differences exist, what are they? While not vouching for Prof. Atuguba's research methodology, it seems we need more research rather than less to answer the questions he has raised.

When late US Supreme court Justice Antonin Scalia was repeatedly critiqued by Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz, he agreed to debate the Law Professor, in front of a Harvard Law Class. The CJ might remember that classroom.

Let our lawyers beware!!