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Justice Wood Unhappy….....   
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Chief Justice Georgina Wood has condemned the current trend of judges using unsavoury language in their judgments to attack colleagues they are in disagreement with.

“I have found it a tragedy when judges, more often than not, dissenting judges, take liberties with their colleagues judges of equal standing and in their written opinions, publicly rebuke or chastise them on account of their stand or make such other remarks that cast a slur on or undermine their hard won integrity,” she stated.

Opening a three-day annual general meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana in Accra yesterday, she noted that although she had earlier raised concern about such “unprofessional behaviour,” it appeared some judge were unrepentant.

“It is becoming a common practice among judges to use harsh words in their judgments to sometimes condemn other judges, prosecutors and even investigators, thus raiding questions over the competence of those judges.

“It is difficult to fathom why a judge would choose to treat his or her colleague in that manner,” she said, and described the situation as being “the worst damage we can inflict on ourselves.” Condemning the practice, she said, no judge could claim infallibility adding “for all we know, the one castigating the other may rather be in error.”

The Chief Justice recalled that during her career as a judge at the appellate court in particular, “I always had respect for colleague judges who on a given case, take minority positions and offer dissenting opinions stating reasons for adopting that view.”

A dissenting opinion, she said, was the fullest embodiment of the right to free expression which symbolized judicial courage and independent thought that is crucial aspect of judicial independence. Consequently, she urged judges to encourage dissent and try to exhibit decorum and “treat each other with sensitivity.”

Mrs Wood said also the judiciary continued to make huge strides in the promotion and maintenance of peace in Ghana; it had been a subject of constant ridicule with complaints and abuse for all facets.

Further, she said, it had also been a forerunner in the violation of human rights of people by continually remanding accused persons for unduly long periods, which she said did no good to the public image.
In view of that, she said a monitoring mechanism had been instituted with effect from this legal year to supervise High Court judges in the regions in order to improve, make more efficient and effective the justice delivery system.

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