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Opinions of Monday, 10 October 2016

Columnist: Professor N. Lungu

Prof Kwaku Asare totally distorts why Akufo-Addo has no Law Degree (Part 1)

"...We beg o, Prof Kwaku Asare!...This is serious business. This is the 21st Century...Today, it matters that people know and critically understand exactly how and why someone appointed and given two separate and unrelated hats (Attorney General / Minister of Justice) actually qualified for the DUAL HATS and positions, beyond the party card they have in their hand....", (Prof Lungu, 6 Oct 16).

Safe to say we read with a measure of amusement Prof Kwaku Asare's essay that sought to "explain" to readers "why Akufo-Addo has no law degree".

We beg o, Prof Asare! However, before we examine the matter, we will note one more time that we rarely delve into the purely political acts of parties, their supporters, and backers1. That is, unless there are important public policy implications.

In this instance, there is! This is serious business! Today, it matters that people know and understand exactly how and why someone appointed and given two separate and unrelated hats (Attorney General / Minister of Justice) actually qualified for the DUAL HATS and positions, beyond the party card they have in their hand. It matters now because that same individual, Akufo-Addo Danquah, now wants to be President of Ghana.

This is the 21st Century! It is the global information, technology and knowledge (GITK) age controlled on the one hand by super-agile, tax-dodging corporations, where managers, in addition to having law degrees and other advanced qualifications also come to the table with decades of professional working experience before they are appointed to those types of positions. On the other hand, there are nations and states of unequal power and resources who must deal with these same giant multi-nationals whose budgets exceed the annual budgets of many of those states.

From our humble vantage point, the Ghana-centered, more useful, more relevant, and practical public policy prescription is this:

No one, going forward, ought to be appointed as Attorney General and/or Minister of Justice who does not have a law degree from a recognized, accredited law school. Further, in other to more seriously address the numerous legal, policy, and administrative problems confronting Ghana, any serious politician running for the highest office in Ghana should seriously advocate the separation of the dual-hat roles of Attorney General-cum-Minister of Justice.

It is for this reason that we do not see any "there" in Prof Asare's essay even though he most likely would like us to know he was speaking of past events, some, from "memory".

Positive qualification ought to matter to a lawyer who must rely more on data and evidence than "memory".

Memory, after all, is many times rarely accurate! So, having totally neglected the important policy questions and the so-what implications, several of Prof Asare's examples turned out to be disjointed, factually inaccurate, and mere juxtapositions.

Although we are no lawyers, we must note that Prof Asare did not quite get the US context right by several of his own examples, even after he re-organized Mr. Joseph Agyekum's question. As a result, Prof Asare poorly served Agyekum and the reader.

Fact is, the examples of California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington Prof Asare present are just 4 samples out of 50-plus population of US states, excluding Puerto Rico and US Territories.

Merely researching how to be a lawyer without going to law-school, and failing to provide caveats, does a disservice to readers who may have less resources than Prof Asare.

Fact is, today, nobody in the US gets to be a qualified lawyer, let alone be appointed US Supreme Court Justice, US Attorney-General, US Attorney, State Attorney-General, County Attorney, City Attorney, etc. who does not have a bona fide "law degree" from an accredited/recognized law school. In some cases, even courses one took at the undergraduate level (pre-law, as they may say), matters to politicians and administrators who sit at the selecting/hiring table(s).

Legal education required for lawyers who want to practice law in California are:

(1) J. D. degree from a law school accredited by California or the ABA;

(2) Four years of study at a fixed-facility law school registered with California

(3) Four years of study, with a minimum of 864 hours of preparation and study per year, at an approved, unaccredited distance-learning or correspondence law school.

(4) Four years of study in the law office/judge’s chambers study program; or

(5) A combination of these methods. (Notice the emphasis on law school education in Factor 1, 2, 3; that "A combination of these methods" apply only to Factor 4).

To the point, Prof Asare's example for California is factually incomplete at best.

Same applies to Virginia: As the Virginia law school application process has it with respect to the Virginia Law Bar:

"....The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners has ruled that, if you wish to become a member of the state’s bar and practice as an attorney in Virginia, you must graduate from an American Bar Association-approved law school...ABA-accredited law schools....".

Same applies to Washington, if by Washington Professor Asare meant the State of Washington.

Same applies to Washington, DC, if Prof Asare meant the reverse!

And so on, and so forth! Significantly, from the point of view of the role of "Minister of Justice" of all the

People, the biggest whopper of false and inaccurate evidence presented by Prof Asare happens to be the example he provided of Maryland native and Kwame Nkrumah classmate, Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993).

We beg o, Prof Asare!

NOTES/SOURCES:

1. The 2-part essay by Dr. Micheal Bokor, titled "Prof. Asare harms Akufo-Addo all the more", Part I/II, show that Prof Asare's essay is all mush with respect to even the larger political questions.

(See at, http://www.modernghana.com/news/725009/prof-asare-harms-akufo-addo-all-the-more-part-i.html);

(See at, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Prof-Asare-harms-Akufo-Addo-all-the-more-Part-II-475425)).

2. Prof Kwaku Asare. Prof Kwaku Asare explains why Akufo-Addo has no law degree,

( http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Prof-Kwaku-Asare-explains-why-Akufo-Addo-has-no-law-degree-475025/).

3. The State Bar of California, Admission Requirements, (http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Requirements.aspx).