The Judicial Service has developed a Code of Ethics and Judicial Discipline to regulate the conduct of judges and staff of the service across the country. The code will ensure,for instance, that judges who fail to sit regularly, do not write judgements or misconduct themselves in public are sanctioned.
The Chief Justice, Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, who disclosed this in an interview in Accra, said the move formed part of the resolve of the Judicial Service to check corruption and other acts of misconduct which drag the name of the service in the mud.
“We will train them on the dos and don'ts in the code so they will be held responsible for their actions,” Mr Justice Acquah,said when he gave highlights of the service's plan of action to promote efficiency this year.
The new code, which will be launched before the middle of next month, spells out sanctions to be applied for offences committed by judges and staff of the service.
Other areas which will be tackled in the code are disturbing complaints about unnecessary adjournments, delays in the hearing of cases and delays in releasing judgements to the registries.
Mr Justice Acquah also cited instances when court officials extorted money from the public before performing their duties, displayed disrespect to the public, misconduct by bailiffs in the service of court processes, among other acts of indiscipline that had been identified by the code. The Chief Justice reminded all that the nationwide investigation which was ordered by the Judicial Council into the misconduct of judges and members of staff was almost complete and said appropriate sanctions would be applied against those found culpable.
He reminded judges and members of staff of the Judicial Service that it was their responsibility to render dedicated service to the public.He,therefore, pleaded with them to exhibit a high sense of impartiality towards all manner of litigants.
He further reminded judges and staff of the service that the Petitions and Complaints Unit was still in existence and that all matters which were referred to it were being investigated in order for the appropriate sanctions to be applied.
Mr Justice Acquah disclosed that as part of measures to ensure the prompt delivery of justice, the rules governing the operations of all courts had been reviewed.
According to him, the old rules had been in existence for the past 50 years adding, “Judges will be trained on the new rules.”
He described the new rules as significant because they would tackle delays and facilitate delivery of justice to the satisfaction of litigants,among many others.
On the issue of career magistrates, the Chief Justice said there were currently 50 at post,pointing out that 33 more would be inducted into service in July this year, while an additional 50 would be inducted next year.
The move, he explained, was aimed at ensuring that there were enough career magistrates to man all the magistrate courts across the country. There are about 150 vacancies for magistrates but only 50 magistrates are at post.
Mr Justice Acquah said the service had employed a full-time director to be in charge of the training of judges and staff to build their capacity.
He explained that delays and errors exhibited by some judges had been found to be due to ignorance, adding, “Training has been found to be a major component of work.”Other measures which would be seriously tackled this year to enhance performance would be the review of service conditions of judges.The Chief Justice expressed his appreciation to the Judicial Council, which he said, had supported all programmes for the advancement of the service.
“Without the unflinching support of the Judicial Council, all the successes chalked in the efficient delivery of justice in the country would not have been achieved,” the Chief Justice added.