The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina T. Wood, yesterday appealed to judges not to turn themselves into “little tigers” in the discharge of their duties.“It will sadden our hearts to hear that you have turned yourselves into little tigers, indiscriminately devouring who you may, by the making of strange, unconstitutional or unjustifiable orders”, she said.
Addressing eight newly promoted circuit court Judges and 19 district magistrates in Accra, Mrs Justice Wood urged them to show genuine respect to the people they serve and not lord it over them or take them for granted.“People in court are people in distress. Be firm with them, but treat them with civility”, she stressed.
Mrs Justice Wood reminded the judges of the admonishment of King Jehopshaphat to judges in the second book of Chronicles Chapter 16: 6 - 7, to “consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord there is no injustice or partiality or bribery”.
She said anything short of determining the matters or causes before them impartially and in accordance with the law would amount to dishonourable conduct.
She appealed to them to live above reproach and not disappoint the nation and the many people who had invested their time, energy and other resources in them.
The Chief Justice reminded them of an administrative directive to all judges and magistrates to actively promote Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in appropriate cases as that was a cost effective and healthy method of resolving disputes at the district court level in particular.
According to her, ADR was one of the pragmatic solutions to the difficulties appearing in curial dispute resolution.“Your duty is not to pressurise, coerce or blackmail litigants or lawyers into using the process. To the contrary, you are to proactively promote ADR and use all legitimate arguments to persuade disputants and lawyers who fear that ADR leads to loss of economic and social power, prestige and influence,” she said.
Mrs Justice Wood reminded the circuit court judges that their promotions came with greater demands on their time and other resources if they were to make a positive impact on the quality of justice in their jurisdiction.
She said although in the area of law reporting, it was only the work of superior court judges that attracted the attention of the law reporters, the judgements of the late Mr Justice D. F. Annan as a circuit court judge, were of such exceptional quality that they readily found their way into the Law Reports.
“In the course of your career as circuit court judges then, the clearance evidence that you indeed deserve another elevation, to the next level of court, the high court, is for you to bring up your reportable decisions and judgements for consideration,” she stated.
The acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Gertrude Aikins, urged the judges to ensure that decisions concerning juvenile justice and maintenance orders were enforced.
She said the problem of streetism and juvenile delinquency were as a result of the flouting of court orders resulting in the non-protection and maintenance of children and mothers.
She urged them to ensure that justice was also dispensed with speedily.
Story by Albert K. Salia & Stephen Sah