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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

The Shame and Ignorance of a Ghanaian Defence Attorney

In a case scenario involving some bribery allegation, the Plaintiff’s attorney submitted to court an evidential compact disc. The complainant has their evidence confirming the occurrence of bribery recorded onto a compact disc. 

In its current state, the video recorded evidence is a softcopy. Until the CD is played to ascertain the facts, the allegation of occurrence of bribery remains shrouded in secrecy. 

Like an encrypted document that only decoding can render it intelligible to many people in a plain text format, so is playing CDs to reveal their content that can make their presentation to court as evidence more understandable or sustainable.

Plaintiff’s Attorney (PA): My Lord (addressing the judge), bribery has taken place. Therefore Mr A has infringed the human rights of my client. Additionally, he has committed a crime against the State according as stipulated in the Ghana Criminal Code Act of 1960.

Defence Attorney (DA): My Lord, no such occurrence as alleged by the plaintiff took place. My client, Mr A, is as white as snow when it comes to issues involving bribery. He has nothing to do with bribery. He runs away from it when he smells it miles away.

PA: I have evidence to support my claim. Mr A has induced some electors with bribe.

DA: You have nothing to suggest that bribery has taken place. My client is such a decent man that he does not go near places where bribery are taking place let alone, indulging in such acts himself.

PA: My Lord, I have evidence. Judge: Then make it available to the Court 

PA: My Lord, here you are. He produced a compact disc (CD) Judge: What is this for? 

PA: The occurrence of the bribery has digitally been recorded live onto the CD. 

Judge: Then the CD has to be played in court before the audience for all to see what is on it 

DA: No, it cannot be played. I shall not accept the CD for evidence 

PA: Why? 

DA: Because the law does not permit the acceptance of recorded CDs or audio-visual materials for evidence 

PA: Who told you that? 

DA: He started quoting some laws that prohibit the acceptance of such materials. Moreover, camera tricks abound in modern technology. One’s head can be superimposed on another’s to fool the public into thinking the one whose head is superimposed is the person doing the talking, but that may not actually be the case. 

PA: If that is all your reason for arguing blindly, please permit me to point you in the right direction. We have the law of ADMISSIBILITY, the law of CREDIBILITY and the law of ACCEPTANCE in that order of arrangement. Softcopies (CDs etc.) are accepted in court for evidential materials. 

(Case reference: During Election 2012 petition, a recorded tape was played as evidence to prove some occurrence involving Kwadwo Afari Gyan. Also in the case of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial in South Africa, Video recorded tapes were played). Playing recorded evidential tapes are admissible in court by law.

When the tape is played, then it can be argued whether those in the tape are the real people accused of the alleged crime or other people are dubiously acting them through the sophistication of modern technology – camera tricks. When found not to be credible because of proven instances of camera tricks, then the evidence can be rejected. When the tape with everything it contains is found to be credible, then comes the law of acceptance. Do we accept it or not, the question is asked?

Until the admission of the tape, what my honourable Defence Attorney is saying is complete balderdash. Sorry my Lord, I retract the insulting word, balderdash.

Judge: You had better be. DA: No, no and no! I disagree with the PA. The tape will not be played as long as I live. The law does not allow for its acceptance. I do not care. I am reiterating to you all that the CD will not be played. I shall not accept it. I dare anyone to play it. 

PA: Young trainee lawyer, please grow up. Do not portray yourself as a fool in the eyes of the audience. Go and study criminal law properly before coming to court to bare your ignorance of the law for all to see.

Case adjourned. Court rise!

The quote of the day: “But in the deep dark recesses of the law lie unclosing watchful eyes of justice, lunging forward and hungry for the cold light of day”

Rockson Adofo