The following are the facts I gathered from my sources as an explanation to the following documents.
1. Anas Aremeyaw Anas sued Kennedy Agyapong for defamation in 2018.
2. Justice Daniel Mensah (the Dormaahene) was the judge handling the case.
3. In the later part of 2020, Justice Daniel Mensah was transferred to Tema. A Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Eric Baah, was appointed interim judge to handle the case pending the appointment of a substantive judge.
4. In June 2021, a substantive judge was appointed to continue the case. I’m told she is Justice Gifty Agyei-Addo, the judge who overturned the General Legal Council’s suspension of Francis Xavier Sosu from practising as a lawyer.
5. On December 1, 2021, Anas and his team discovered in court that the substantive judge had been taken off the case and the interim judge had returned. They had no idea what had happened. They were given an explanation.
6. On the blind side of Anas and his legal team, Kennedy Agyapong had written to the Chief Justice to request that the interim judge should return to continue the case.
7. The reason Kennedy Agyapong and his lawyers gave was that the interim judge had “observed the demeanour of the parties and is abreast with details of the case, including its nature and scope.” The substantive judge, Kennedy Agyapong said, would take time to familiarise herself with the case. “She also does not have the benefit of the demeanour of the witnesses so far.”
8. A week after receiving Kennedy Agyapong’s letter, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah directed Justice Eric Baah, to go back and continue the case as Kennedy Agyapong requested in his letter to the Chief Justice.
9. When Anas and his legal team expressed their confusion upon seeing the interim judge in court, Justice Eric Baah said he’d been directed by the Chief Justice to continue the case. He added that Anas and his team were expected to have been served with Kennedy Agyapong’s petition and the Chief Justice’s directive. But that was not done.
I’m not a lawyer but I’m wondering whether it is normal for one party in a case to write to the Chief Justice to suggest a judge without the knowledge of the other party, and have that wish granted.
And per the reasons given by the defendant, if, for any reason, Justice Eric Baah is unable to continue working as a judge, won’t the case continue with another judge who may not “know the demeanour” of the witnesses?