Lowering The Bar
The bar (lawyers/prosecutors) is the interface between parties to a case and the judge (bench). The meeting between lawyers in the court is an occasion that keeps lawyers on their toes, looking into and critically analyzing facts of respective cases and aspiring to put forth a convincing case in court.
The crass corruption occasioned by the judicial service mafia however has, in a large measure, contributed to instances where lawyers do little or nothing about cases, knowing well that judgment could and would be secured outside the court room.
Some lawyers connive with clients and the ‘mafia’ within the courts to create a short cut to secure an unjust justice, with little or no work at all. The days when lawyers intellectually engaged one another with wit and verve are therefore dying out.
It is sad to state that corruption has effectively lowered the bar. Legal dexterity is being washed down the drain and in its place is the ‘who-you-know’ syndrome. Consequently, today, most lawyers take more time building connections than building their cases and strengthening their briefs.
However, the good news is, we encountered also some lawyers whose hard work, integrity and dedication to duty have enhanced the quick and effective delivery of justice in Ghana. They are like soldiers matching to war who would not be distracted by any enticement.
The Unofficial Amici Curiae – ‘Friends of the Court’
The court is largely an open place except in cases where hearings are done in-camera for one reason or the other. Ordinarily, the court is a place for magistrates, judges, the judicial service staff, media and interested parties in particular cases.
There however is a last group of people, who are interested parties in all cases, in all judges and in all staff of the judicial service. They are ‘the friends of the court’, hangers-on around the courts, some having ‘worked’ from within and around the courts for decades. They refer to themselves secretly as retired Supreme Court Judges though they have never been to any Law School or sworn any oath.
These friends of the court are very much the core of the judicial corruptibility scandal.
They are not officials of the court yet have a dossier on every judge. They can profile which judge could be posted to particular courts, they know the private lives of most judges and seldom go wrong when they give assurances.
They are not lawyers but can stand toe-to-toe with any lawyer within the courts. The potency of their ‘legal’ counsel and direction is the envy of any legal brain. They file cases, facilitate speedy trials and of course, take their ‘management and consultancy’ fees duly.
Some are good and of help to anyone who can’t find their way around the courts, most however are so audacious to pose as lawyers even dressed in their traditional attires and swindle people, sometimes of very huge sums of money.
The story of one Alhaji we interacted with at the Cocoa Affairs court in Accra makes interesting following: