The Spokesperson for the Ghana Bar Association, Mr Tony Forson says it is time for the General Legal Council to crack the whip on lawyers who show disrespect to judges after their ruling.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story Monday, he underscored that lawyers are allowed to pass comment after ruling – whether in their favour or not -, but they must be “civil and must show respect to the court”.
He said there are calls for concern if comments by lawyers and the general public sought to “bring court’s authority into ridicule”.
Mr Forson’s comments come on the back of concerns expressed by judges at the Supreme Court hearing the ongoing election petition. The judges had cause to condemn comments by the general public including lawyers concerning unwarranted criticisms against their rulings.
Their reservation was apparently in reference to an article written by the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko in which he described their decision regarding the Bernard Mornah case as timid.
Mr Otchere-Darko has since withdrew that comment and apologized unreservedly to members of the bench using his facebook page.
But citing a case involving the Republic vrs Mensah Bonsu, Mr Forson said the court in such instances can cite lawyers for contempt of court.
Also, he noted, the Ghana Bar Association has time immemorial drawn the attention of its members to the fact that such comments are unhealthy and “are not right”.
However he conceded that the Association cannot on its own crack the whip on members whose actions offend the court. This should be done by the judges themselves, he said.
“The authority to crack the whip lies with the General Legal Council. And I will hope that the General Legal Council will be up and doing and discipline the lawyers who go wayward.
“It is my strong view that it is only when people are sanctioned that people will take a cue from the sanctioning and behave properly… There is very little we [GBA] can do.”
According to Mr Forson, it is within the ambit of the judges to suspend lawyers, cause their license to be withdrawn or revocation of license among several other sanctions if they cross the line.
“Judges must be respected and protected” he said emphatically, noting that it is based on their expertise that cases are brought before them for adjudication.
Assessing Gabby’s write up, he said certain portions of the statement would certainly not go down well with a number of people, but the “total write up was in a good spirit”.