Show of power by Magistrate exposed
Lawyers attending the Ghana Bar Association meeting in Takoradi, were on Tuesday stunned by an account of the Ashanti Region Bar of how perception of a magistrate's personal hatred for a lawyer led to the lawyer's incarceration.
Osei-Tutu, the lawyer, was given the opportunity to expatiate on a documented report filed by the bar association's conference and drew gasps of knowing despairing anxieties at the hands of pompous judges with exaggerated opinions of their status.
Osei Tutu of Sarpomaa Chambers, narrated how the Magistrate, Miss Ampem Darko at the Mampong Magistrate's Court, ordered that he be thrown into police cells for daring to demand that she should decline jurisdiction on a case on which she was sitting.
It is normal judicial practice for a lawyer to ask that a judge, even of a high court, should decline jurisdiction on a case if there is evidence that the judge or magistrate has an interest in the case or that the status of the case is such that it ought to go to a superior court.
Lower courts like Magistrate courts are described as 'inferior courts'.
From the perspective of Osei Tutu and the Ashanti Region Bar, Miss Ampem Darko has a misconception of her power and judicial responsibilities.
Miss Ampem Darko, Osei Tutu said, paid a personal visit to the Mampong Police cells at 11.30 a.m. to make sure that the lawyer was inside the cells and not behind the counter.
It took considerable lobbying for other senior lawyers to get the freedom of the lawyer after he had spent a full night in the police cells.
The incident happened on July 13, 2004 in the Ejisu District.
Asante-Krobea, secretary of the regional bar, confirmed that the matter has been reported to the Judicial Council, and the lawyers alleged that the magistrate has personal grudge with the lawyer and the incident can only be the magistrate's way of 'showing' him. The account has been summarized in page 55 of the conference report.
Miss. Ampem Darko was not at the Bar conference, but the Judicial Council of which the Chief Justice and the Bar President are both members, is yet to take a decision on the matter which is of widespread concern to most young lawyers unfamiliar with the Ghanaian legal maze which is perceived and acknowledged as intensely corrupt.
Last Monday, the CJ appealed to the Bar Association to report corrupt judges to him to enable him eliminate cases of perceived corruption in the judiciary.
Justice George Kingsley Acquah stressed the need for the GBA to dispense with this “invaluable assistance” to help him monitor the general performance of judges some of who take years to write and release judgments.