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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Open Letter to Human Rights Court Justice Paul K. Richardson

My Lord,

I am Rockson Adofo, a native of Kumawu, but currently residing in the United Kingdom. I have been following and reporting on the Kumawu chieftaincy dispute right from its very inception in the year 2007 until present, with keen interest.

From what I officially know of, you had been presiding over the case since 27 February 2014 when it was brought to court for a proper arbitration after the traditional arbitrating body (Asanteman Council), made a mockery of themselves and justice as recorded on a video tape.

The complainants in the case, understandably, submitted to the court a softcopy (compact disc) -bearing evidence of the impropriety tantamount to infringement of the 1992 Constitution and natural justice.

Before proceeding any further, let me pause to ask, how do the courts and the public become aware of any evidence borne on softcopies, i.e. compact disc (CD)? Are such evidences admissible in Ghanaian courts? From a more knowledgeable opinion, a White lawyer of outstanding integrity of course, there exists the laws of ADMISSIBILITY, CREDIBILITY and ACCEPTABILITY when it comes to the submitting of such softcopy-bearing materials as supporting evidence to one’s case in court.

Video-bearing evidences are to begin with, admissible in any court of law that worth its salt, in the world. Once admitted, it has to be played for its credibility to be decided. When it is proven credible, then it has to be accepted for evidence by the court.

What did you do about the CD-bearing evidence presented by the complainants in the Kumawu chieftaincy dispute? From what I know of, you did far worse than Supreme Court Justice William Atuguba in his delivery of verdict on Election 2012 petition. As he took about eight minutes to delivery his ill-prepared and absolutely nonsensical, unprofessional and disgracefully shameless verdict that made a complete mockery of the Ghanaian judiciary, you only took five minutes to pronounce your similarly ill-fated judgment.

Barely walking into the court and sitting down, had you said, “I will not play the video tape. I have dismissed the Kumawu case. Kumawuhemaa can go and proceed with the enthronement of her candidate as Kumawuhene-elect”. You rose up, left the court and in the process making a joke of all your number of years spent in the law profession.

Would you please let Ghanaians know why you behaved so irresponsibly in such an unprofessional manner? Were you ordered from “above” or you accepted a bribe as done by the Kumawu sub-chiefs to disgrace yourself in the manner that you did on Friday, 17 October 2014? Were you not the one that had promised to play the evidence-bearing CD in court about two and a half months earlier? What made you change your mind at the last minute?

Do you have any demonstrable integrity? I am afraid, not. You may equally be like almost all the Ghanaian judges who have been delivering or twisting justice depending on the bribes litigants (either complainants or defendants) pay them. This is confirmed by your own fellow judge in a publication on Ghanaweb under their Regional News of Saturday, 4 October 2014. The publication was titled, “Refrain from offering bribes to Judges – Judge”

The publication mentioned, inter alia, that “Mr Justice Charles Agbavor, Volta Regional Supervising High Court Judge, has cautioned litigants against acts intended to bribe officials of the court to tilt decisions in their favour. “Judges and Magistrates are not corrupt until you make them corrupt and you must, therefore, stop bringing them the dogs, the goats and the fowls,” he had stated.

Ghanaian judges are totally a disgrace unto themselves and unto Ghana. If you were in England, the media would have taken you on until you resigned.

The evidence that you refused to play in court before a limited number of audience for whatever reason, has now found its way to YouTube, under the title, “Asantehene involves in corruption”. It is now in the public domain. Kumawuhemaa had dubiously intended to have the plaintiffs accused of contempt of court, by tasking her accomplices to make the tapes public, then runs to court to blame the source of its public appearance on the plaintiffs. Now everything has gone pear-shaped for her.

Would she do it if she knew it would end up on YouTube? She probably would have not. What then a perfect scenario of “Man proposes but God disposes?”

With reference to the Warrington Notes, (Article 13 of the Warrington Notes on STOOL DISPUTES, “The offering and taking of bribes to influence an election by candidates, elders and young men was declared in 1941 to be illegal. If a candidate does so he loses his right to election on that occasion (only); and if a stool holder does so it is a ground for destoolment. The nomination, installation or election of a person not entitled to the stool is also a ground for destooling the person who does any of these acts”); Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s book, “THE POSITION OF CHIEF IN THE MODERN POLITICAL SYSTEM OF ASHANTI” at pages 210 to 212 on - “1938. Item 5. The offering and accepting bribes in connexion with election and destoolment of Chiefs; ACTS OF GHANA: Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29) – THE CRIMINAL CODE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2003 (ACT 646); and the 1992 Constitution; how do you justify the way you delivered your verdict on the Kumawu chieftaincy case where gargantuan bribery was the issue at stake, on Friday 17 October 2014?

From the following types of trials of which Ghana goes for Judge Trial, did you live up to the expectation of your profession, let alone, to that of Ghanaians?

Judge Trial

“One of the best reasons to opt for the judge decided trial is because a judge is not biased and does not let his emotions determine the outcome of the case. All judges are previous attorneys and they understand that they can only look at the facts of the case so they make their determination based on that no matter what their personal feelings are. They may have a serious loathing for either the defendant or the plaintiff, depending on the type of case it is, but still must follow the letter of the law.

Also, because the judges do have a full understanding of the law, they understand fully the terms that are used to make a decision. In a criminal trial, they know what beyond a shadow of doubt means and how they should rule based on this. When it comes to a civil case, the trial is based on a preponderance of evidence which basically means which story is more likely and who made the best case and had the best evidence”.

Trial by Jury

“The reasons for having a jury try a case are the exact opposite of the judge trial but for very good reasons. An emotional jury can actually be good for one who has been severely wronged in a civil case or when the defendant wants to have them feel emotion for the crime. While jurors are always told not to get emotionally involved, they are still human and may use emotion when deliberating no matter what they are told. This can work in one’s favour and is one big reason why many take this option.

While a jury is fully instructed in preponderance of evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt both terms can be taken many ways by the jurors. There is more room for interpretation and what one thinks is beyond a reasonable doubt another may not see it the same way. The same goes for a preponderance of evidence. You may think that the plaintiff had the best evidence and was in the right but another juror could feel just the opposite. This is why it can take a great deal of time for a jury to come back with a verdict”

Permit me to define the phrases “beyond/without a shadow of a doubt” and “preponderance” as employed in both trials above. If something is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no doubt that it is true/ if you know or believe something beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are certain that it is true.

Preponderance: - the largest part or greatest amount: e.g. the preponderance of evidence suggests that he's guilty.

How did you truthfully apply both the phrase and word in your pronouncement of judgment on the Kumawu chieftaincy case brought before you? Any White judge would have resigned by now seeing the evidence and the related applicable laws all now in the public domain, but are very contrary to the pronounced verdict. How do you feel now – remorseful, guilty or still proud of yourself?

I shall come back to you for further explanations if need be.

Yours Sincerely,

Rockson Adofo