The opening of the May Term of Criminal Courts A, B, C and D, at the Temple of Justice was yesterday dominated by a heated debate over the law and procedure followed by the Supreme Court to penalize judges throughout the country, which Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh defended yesterday.
Judge Yussif Kaba was a one-time casualty of the Supreme Court’s discipline requiring him to serve a one month suspension period without pay. He did not collect a dime during his suspension.
Delivering his charge at Criminal Court ‘A’ that was attended by Associate Justice Yuoh along with lawyers, judges and prospective jurors, Judge Gee-Plah Tiklo Kontoe, however, raised suspicions about the manner adopted by the Supreme Court to penalize judges.
In the packed courtroom Judge Kontoe wondered what judges have done to deserve punishment by the Supreme Court.
“We judges sometimes feel bad when we get to know that we are being blamed for the judgment we rendered in a particular criminal case,” complained Judge Kontoe, expressing regret about the Supreme Court’s action against judges.
“Sometimes we want to know what article of the Constitution we did not follow leading to the action against us.”
He, however, advised his colleagues to be very mindful and perform their duties as assigned them by the Supreme Court under the law and to turn over what he considered as “a new leaf” to ensure a functional justice system.
In a rejoinder, Justice Yuoh clarified that judges are not penalize because of their judicial opinion (judgment).
Judges are punished because of their deliberate and blatant disregard for elementary principles of law that they refuse to follow, explained Justice Yuoh.
“I want to emphasize that our judges fail to follow the elementary laws and principles that they ought to have known at all times,” the Associate Justice said defending the decision. She was critical of the fact that a first year law school student can recite the elementary laws and principles that judges fail to uphold.
“If you refuse to adhere to those principles and laws, we will not hesitate to apply the necessary penalty so as to counsel the nation that poor people cannot get justice in our courts today, “Justice Yuoh vowed.
She said judges and lawyers are in cahoots with clients bringing the court to public disgrace, therefore the Supreme Court has vowed that those involved will not go unpunished.
According to her, stability and peace depend on judges’ adherence to the first fundamental rules and laws that guide their deportment not only in the courtroom but also in the community.