The Judicial Service is faced with the challenge of preparing jurors for the adjudication of criminal cases in the Ashanti Region.
Regional Supervising High Court Judge, Kofi Akrowia, says the practice of available jurors being part of several cases has repercussions on expeditious trials.
He made the observations at the opening of this year’s ‘Criminal Assizes’ in Kumasi.
Ghana’s 1992 Constitution promulgates the use of judges and jury in the trial of accused persons standing trial for offences which punishment is death or imprisonments, other than high treason or treason.
Article 19 (2) reads, “A person charged with a criminal offence shall (a) in the case of an offence other than high treason or treason, the punishment for which is death or imprisonment for life, be carried by a Judge and Jury.”
The jurors are not staff of the Service but appointed from organisations and allowed to decide the fate of their fellow citizens standing trial for criminal offences.
Kofi Akrowia said failure of residents to accept this responsibility has repercussions on expeditious trial.
He recounted instances where institutions asked to provide persons to serve as jurors hesitated in doing so.
This, he says, affects expeditious trial.
“It has often been a problem preparing the jury list. there are challenges relating to adequacy of both men and women for empanelling. Indeed, this has repercussion on expeditious trial,” he told the session in Kumasi.
There are at least 72 criminal cases pending before five High Court judges in the Ashanti region this year alone.
Thirty-five of the cases are from last year’s session which could not be heard as a result of Covid-19.
Justice Akrowia assured key stakeholders of the support of the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, in promoting justice.
He wants lawyers, jurors and witnesses to play their key roles with dignity.
“I am entreating the jurymen to consider their duty as a national one and service to the nation in its justice delivery system and thus, show dedication and commitment.
I therefore entreat our “Learned Friends” to de-emphasise working for reward in these circumstances.
We expect the Attorney-General’s Department in the region led by the Chief State Attorney, to be equally committed, and to ensure attendance of witnesses, including the police.
I also entreat our potential witnesses, to show their commitment to the justice delivery system by giving fair and unbiased testimonies to ensure fair and effective trial.”
Meanwhile, Justice Akrowia has promised the readiness of the Judicial Service to probe all petitions against staff of the Service.
He, however, wants such petitions to be devoid of personal attacks.
” It is only that we expect the citizenry to lodge fair and objective complaints without being judgemental,” he said.
“Some petitions, mostly condemn the affected personnel, including the judges. I do not think it is the best way of lodging complaints. We acknowledge that we are fallible too but let your criticisms and comments be made fairly, objectively and in decorous language, and we shall definitely deal with them,” he added.
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