A former boss of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short, has said the outgoing Chief Justice performed “creditably” in her 10-year role as head of the judiciary.
Mrs Wood retires officially today 8 June having attained the mandatory retirement age of 70 after serving as Ghana’s first female Chief Justice.
Speaking about Mrs Wood’s achievements on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Thursday 8 June, Mr Short commended her for introducing the Justice for All programme.
He told show host Moro Awudu: “She has performed creditably. Some of the initiatives that she brought about were the Justice for All which was intended to reduce the number of remand prisoners in custody by sending judges to the prisons to hold trials for the remand prisoners. I think that was one positive initiative which she brought about.
“I think also she introduced the policy of witness statements being recorded so that the witnesses don’t have to give evidence in chief. So the statements are handed over to the opponent and then you proceed with cross examination on the basis of the written statement. That also helped to speed up the justice system because as you know, one of the major problems of the justice system is the delays in the court. So that had some positive effects on the delay of justice systems.
“I think also she intervened where necessary. For example, you recall that recently she [set up special courts] that will deal with galamsey cases and so these are a few of the positive contributions she made to the justice system.”
Mr Short, however, identified alternative dispute resolution as a low point of Mrs Wood’s administration. He said: “I do know that some lawyers have expressed concern about the fact that the alternative dispute resolution system is not working properly. In other words, there are rooms that have been set aside for mediators to conduct mediation into cases which are pending in court. For some reason which I’m not too sure about, this alternative dispute resolution mechanism is not functioning as well as it should and I think that that is something the new Chief Justice will need to address as soon as she assumes office.”
Mrs Wood worked with the Ghana Police Service as a Deputy Superintendent and public prosecutor for three years before joining the Judicial Service as a District Magistrate in 1974.
She rose through the Circuit and High courts to become a judge of the Appeal Court in 1991. She was appointed to the Supreme Court by President John Kufuor on 12 November 2002, an appointment she had earlier declined.
She was nominated for the position of Chief Justice in May 2007 and on 1 June, 2007 parliament approved her nomination by consensus, making her the first woman to head the judiciary.
Since taking office, Mrs Wood has sworn in three Presidents – the late President John Evans Atta Mills in January 2009, then Vice President John Dramani Mahama upon the death of President Mills on 24 July 2012, and President-elect John Dramani Mahama on 7 January, 2013. She last swore into office on 7th January, 2017 Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
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