Presiding judge William Atuguba has expressly warned counsel for the petitioners Philip Addison for what he said was inappropriate comments directed at the respondents in the hearing of the Presidential Election petition.
Justice William Atuguba told Mr. Philip Addison that the court would not hesitate in applying sanctions on him in accordance with the ethics of the court if he continued casting insinuations at the judges. This would be “wiping the slate” for the last time.
Petitioners' counsel Philip Addison incurred the wrath of the justices when he, in the heat of haggling over who should take custody of an exhibit to be cross-checked, said he did not trust the respondents enough to leave the document with them. He added that since they did not trust him, he could not trust them.
Earlier, Mr. Addison sought to cross-examine Afari Gyan on a particular voters' register. But the witness said he would need to cross-check with the copy in the custody of the Electoral Commission before answering questions on the document.
Addison then proceeded to demand that his copy be returned to him. He would instead give the witness an electronic copy.
The court could not understand the reason behind this demand and enquired from counsel.
In a passionate response, counsel said he did not trust any of the respondents “one bit”. He catalogued a number of incidence of deep-seated mistrust exhibited by the respondents.
He said yesterday in court the witness would not accept his register without bringing to court his own register.
“They don’t trust me but they want me to trust them. I don’t trust them one bit”, he charged.
He added that “for the avoidance of doubt” he would leave it with the court but not with the respondents.
His consistent charge of mistrust drew a response from Justice Baffoe- Bonnie who said the imputation of mistrust ought not to be done in the highest court of the land. He said the development was contemptuous of the court and not just the respondents because all lawyers were officers of the court and ought to uphold the sanctity of the court.
Addison protested that far more serious and derogatory comments had been made by counsel for the respondents in previous sittings but those comments did not attract the opprobrium of the Bench.
He made reference to a comment by counsel for the National Democratic Congress, Tsatsu Tsikata, imputing ‘criminality’ to the petitioners.
Justice Atuguba obviously unhappy with the comments, told Mr. Addison that he was impugning the integrity of the judges.
He said the justices had immense powers to deal with any counsel who showed disrespect in their submissions.
He said the court took the view that “power is for the benefit of human beings not for the sake” but if the use of unsavoury language in court.