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28.08.2004 General News

Ghanaian judges visit U.S. courts ...

By The Oklahoman

Five Ghanaian judges were in Oklahoma this week to study ethics, legal proceedings and courtroom technology in American justice systems. "We haven't got any of the sophistication that we see here," Ghana's Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah said as he spoke to news organizations at the Oklahoma City federal courthouse.

"We still have judges that take down proceedings in longhand."

Acquah is traveling with Supreme Court Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, Appeals Court Judge Victor Jones Mawulom Dotse, High Court Judge Mariama Owusu and Circuit Court Judge Wilhelmina Hammond.

"We are also to discuss the code of ethics and the ways of disciplining judges," Acquah said.

He said the Ghanaian judges also have learned the differences between state and federal law systems and about the separation of powers.

While Ghana's judiciary is set up similar to America's system, Ghanaian judges still are developing procedural rules and ways of dealing with certain types of crimes, Acquah said.

Ghana's chief justice said he is especially interested in drug courts, the prison system and probation goals.

The five judges have been touring courthouses since Aug. 14, when they arrived in Washington.

They visited Williamsburg, Va., and Chicago before arriving in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

The judges were invited by the U.S. State Department International Visitor Leadership Program.

Oklahoma City federal Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange has been serving as host judge.

The judges toured the Garfield County Courthouse in Enid to look at how a smaller courthouse can be computerized, met with other federal judges and magistrates to discuss legal matters and visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

"We were shocked to see the realities of that dastardly act," Acquah said.

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