Can We Rethink Our Judgeship Appointments?

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Ghana’s Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, serves as the final appeals court in our judicial system.

Supreme Court Justices, Court of Appeals Judges, and High Court Judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Parliament of Ghana, as stated in the Constitution.

The names of potential nominees are often recommended to Parliament by President. The Appointments Committee of Parliament typically conducts confirmation hearings for each nominee.

The Constitution sets forth no specific requirements for judges besides working at the bar for 15 years and of high moral character.

However, members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee, who typically recommend potential nominees, have developed their own informal criteria.

But I hold the view that before the Committee convenes a hearing to discuss the nominee’s qualifications and ask questions regarding his experience, they should have conducted a thorough background check and examines the nominee’s works, significant litigation matters, political affiliations to strike the balance between Rights to Association and the Judges duty to give judgment free from impartiality and any potential conflicts of interest.

One should not be denied the opportunity of joining the bench for his or her political affiliation because every individual including judges, has the right to association.

Judges at any level should not be immune from joining political parties.

I have no problem when one or two Lawyers are plugged from commercial Law Firms to join the bench at the High Court. However, it is problematic when a large number are drawn from the commercial market to fill the vacancies at the Supreme Court.

For me, it is weaponization of the judiciary to bring persons with zero experience of the BENCH to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court should not be reduced to a learning platform for persons walking to retirement. The Apex Court should not be used to atone for friendship gaps.

I think merit was not considered in the appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court by the framers of our laws.

Appointment to fill vacancies at the Supreme Court must be progressive and promotional from Appeals Court.

Why skipped Appeals Court and go to the Commercial Market to surf for Lawyers to occupy the Highest Court of the land without a scintilla of bench exposure?
It is safe to suggest that when one is Court of Appeals Judge, there is an existing bench experience, skills, and flair.

In the spirit of meritorious appointment, can we consider an application process where judges at the Lower, High, and Appeals Court who consider themselves ripe apply to be promoted? The process to determine who is most qualified would be the preserve of the Judicial Council.

For merit, there are judges who always strive towards excellence by working extra hard; such judges do more than what counterparts do. They sometimes deny themselves of the pleasures of the world – lack of sleep, no drinking, no womanizing, proper focus, frugal with money, no excessive consumption of food just so they could be recognized for promotion on merit because they don’t have the links.

Yes, merit is the “quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward,” has a spirit.

It is that spirit that compels one to reward or acknowledge the best mind or effort in a competition or an examination or a process of appointment. The spirit of merit is infectious, and or could be infectious. It could spur people into working harder, aspiring higher. The spirit of merit has a deep meaning for those who subscribe to it; it increases faith in the boundless capacity of the human mind. It helps to build organizations and society. It encourages people to aim for the best in all fields. The spirit of merit is always appreciated by sincere persons, by persons who believe that the man for the job should get it.

-views of a commoner-

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