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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04ACCRA2172
2004-11-04 09:24:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Accra
Cable title:  

FY04 SCP: "JUDICIAL REFORM AND

Tags:   KPAO  OIIP  OEXC  SCUL  PGOV  GH 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ACCRA 002172 

SIPDIS

FOR ECA/PE/V/G/A EBUTLER; AF/PD LWKOENGETER; PZABRISKIE;
IIP/T/DHR JJASIK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OIIP OEXC SCUL PGOV GH
SUBJECT: FY04 SCP: "JUDICIAL REFORM AND
ETHICS" - AUGUST 13 - SEPTEMBER 5, 2004 -
EVALUATION


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ACCRA 002172

SIPDIS

FOR ECA/PE/V/G/A EBUTLER; AF/PD LWKOENGETER; PZABRISKIE;
IIP/T/DHR JJASIK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OIIP OEXC SCUL PGOV GH
SUBJECT: FY04 SCP: "JUDICIAL REFORM AND
ETHICS" - AUGUST 13 - SEPTEMBER 5, 2004 -
EVALUATION



1. Summary: Five members of Ghana's
judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court Chief
Justice, participated in a three-week funded
single country International Visitor
Leadership program under the theme "Judicial
Reform and Ethics". Participant line-up was:
Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice
of Ghana; Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo,
Supreme Court Judge; Justice Victor Jones
Mawulom Dotse, Appeals Court Judge; Justice
Mariama Owusu, High Court Judge; and Judge
Wilhelmina Hammond, Circuit Court Judge. The
Chief Justice and other IVLP participants
shared conclusions and observations from the
trip with DCM, POL and PAS personnel at a
recent luncheon hosted by the DCM at his
residence. End summary.


2. Description: a) At luncheon given in their honor by
the DCM and attended by PAS and POL officers, the
Ghanaian Chief Justice and other high-ranking judges who
recently returned from an International Visitors
Leadership Program in the United States, noted that the
US judicial and legal systems are firmly rooted in the
principles of law and order, compliance with the law,
strict enforcement of the law, respect for the rule of
law and the independence of the judiciary. The judges
indicated that their visit was a great success, and
expressed surprise at the extent to which courts in the
US were computerized, and especially so at the
"Courtroom 21" in Williamsburg, Virginia. Chief Justice
Acquah, who heads the Ghanaian judiciary, has
recommended that, as part of the judicial reforms in
Ghana, the US Sentencing Commission should be studied
closely and "implemented in Ghana". He talked about the
group's visit in Washington DC to the Federal Judicial
Center, the Department of Justice, the American Bar
Association Center and the offices of "Judicial Watch",
an NGO, where they had first hand knowledge and
experience in the area of federalism and state, as well
as a general overview of the state judicial system.

b) Chief Justice Acquah recommended that institutional

linkages be established between the Faculty of Law of
the University of Ghana, the Ghana School of Law, and
"Courtroom 21", to enable young Ghanaian attorneys to
receive further legal training and exposure to the
latest state-of-the art court technology.

c) The Chief Justice noted that caseload management in
US courts is "excellent", and marveled that there is a
system in place designed to expedite the hearing and
determination of cases. He has proposed that it would
be worthwhile to incorporate some procedures used in the
US civil and criminal courts to the new rules being
designed for Ghanaian courts. The Ghanaian team also
noted with interest, that, in the US, experts in a
particular field of endeavor are appointed as managers
and receivers of properties that have been placed under
court injunctions, and that, sometimes the parties
involved in the case make their own nominations of who
should manage the properties. As a result of
information gleaned from his trip, Justice Acquah has
proposed to discard the Ghanaian system of appointing
court registrars as managers and receivers of seized
properties, and in their place, adopt the "US way". He
also recommended that the revised Ghanaian code of
ethics for judges and magistrates should be submitted to
Professor Steven Lubet, a law professor at the
Northwestern University in Chicago, for his comments and
advice.

d) The group noted with fascination, and at the same
time, regret, that the Cook County jail law library is
better resourced and equipped than the Ghanaian Supreme
Court library. With the same fascination, they talked
about their visit to the crime laboratory and of
learning, firsthand, how it operated. Also of great
interest to the team were the Mental Health Courts they
visited in Oklahoma City, where, according to what they
saw, medical personnel, probation officers, the police
and all other related offices collaborate to help in the
rehabilitation of mentally-challenged convicts.
They lamented that due to bad weather and flight
problems they were unable to visit the tribal courts in
Oklahoma. A visit to those courts, they said, would
have afforded them the opportunity to learn how the
formal court system in the US blends with tribal court
decisions, and how a combination of the two systems
could be applied to the Ghanaian court system vis--vis
Ghanaian tribal courts.

e) On Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the team
observed that this system is widely used and has been
integrated into the US judicial system. Justice Acquah
noted that JAMS, a local NGO based in California, has
made great strides in the use of ADR. He said that the
appellate mediation program they learned about in
Philadelphia is a unique system which deserves to be
studied closely for possible replication in Ghana.
Another observation by the group was that important US
institutions like the court system, the Department of
Justice, the FBI and police are all well-respected and
adequately resourced, and there are sufficient checks
and balances to ensure that all these organizations do
not abuse their powers; stating further that these
organs of state collaborated very well with prison and
probation officers and medical personnel.
f) On home hospitality, Chief Justice Acquah said that
there were numerous dinner invitations and visits to
homes, and he expressed the gratitude of the group to
the organizers of the program for the warm reception.
The group appreciated the excellent coordination of all
events and activities, especially mentioning their
English Language Officer Dr. Raiford, whose help and
support was invaluable. They also highly commended
Judges Anne Claire Williams, of the US Appeals Court in
Chicago, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, US District Court Judge
in Oklahoma, and Theodore McKee, US Circuit Court Judge
in Philadelphia, for their willingness to share valuable
information, advice and support for the group. Another
group they mentioned was the "very pleasant team" from
the Department of State, who met and welcomed them
during their administrative briefing. They expressed
their intention to follow up on discussions with the
Federal Judicial Center in Washington DC to explore
possible areas of collaboration and institutional
linkages.


3. Cities and Dates: The program took the
visitors to Washington DC (08/13 - 20, 2004);
Williamsburg, Virginia (08/20 - 21, 2004);
Chicago, Illinois (08/21 - 25, 2004); Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma (08/25 - 28, 2004); Los
Angeles, California (08/28 - 09/1, 2004);
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (09/01 - 09/03,
2004); and New York City (09/02/09/05, 2004).


4. Justification: This Single Country Project is a
further attempt by Mission to help the Ghanaian
judiciary with its reforms and to help improve access to
justice in the country. Mission has supported the
Ghanaian judiciary since 1997 when a group of Ghanaian
legal experts visited the US on a Citizen Exchange
program to learn about ADR, and this group succeeded in
promoting the use of ADR in the Ghanaian court system
and in local communities.


5. MPP Goals: This program has given a major boost to
relations between Mission and the office of the Chief
Justice, and the Ghanaian judiciary as a whole.


6. Results/Impact: Excellent. The Single Country
Project participants think that this program has been a
"great eye opener". To Ms. Justice Owusu, this visit
was her first to the US, and according to her, she was
not disappointed.


7. Quality of USG Support: Excellent. The project was
fully funded.



Yates