The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has backed up the concerns raised by some lawyers who have been criticizing and scandalizing the courts on social media in an attempt to undermine court judgments.
This comes after Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame condemned the practice of some lawyers attacking courts and judges on social media when decisions do not go their way, particularly in high-profile political cases.
He wants lawyers who engage in such behavior to be held accountable.
On Thursday, April 21, Mr. Dame made these remarks at the Bench, Bar, and Faculty conference in Accra.
“One would have thought, My Lord Chief Justice, that lawyers would have taken advantage of the digital revolution, which I spoke about this morning, to consolidate the importance of this legal profession and its role in the affairs of state,” he said.
“On the contrary, recent events reveal a systematic attempt by certain lawyers, often from one political party, to use social media to denigrate the administration of justice by poisoning and caustic attacks on court judgments, albeit unjustified.” This is frequently exacerbated in commentary on so-called political cases, where some lawyers believe the outcome will have far-reaching implications for the goals of political parties with which they sympathize.”
“When confronted with adverse rulings, some lawyers go so far as to advocate for the abolition or scrapping of our courts,” he continued.
“The most heinous aspect of such an endeavor is that many of their venomous remarks are demonstrably false, yet the propagators of these false and dangerous ideas persist in their efforts to force them down the throats of the unsuspecting public.”
“Such unethical behavior on the part of some lawyers incentivizes people who aren’t lawyers to launch even more savage and illogical attacks on the judiciary.”
“This behavior is clearly despicable because it has the potential to undermine the integrity of Ghana’s justice delivery institutions.” Such actions should result in sanctions against the lawyers involved.”
Mr Savior Kudze, the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Bar Association, expressed his thoughts on the Attorney General’s concerns in an interview with TV3 on the sidelines of the event. “I think that the points he raised were very germane in the sense that this is a profession, we have a way we criticize judgments,” he said.
“We mostly do this in a publication called Review of Ghana Law, which is published by the Council for Law Reporting, so if you have a judge’s decision that you disagree with as a lawyer, you write a critique.”
“Writing a critique entails examining the merits and drawbacks of the decisions, relying on the law as you know it, and concluding that “having reviewed the judgment, the judges ought to have given the decision this way and not the way they have done it.”
“That is the best way to do it, but doing it on social media is not the best because that has emotional underpinnings, and once you are in the realm of emotions, your reasoning as a lawyer or as a person stops.”