I wish African judges wear local print in courtroom, not black suit and wig-Ghana senior Judge
London, Dec. 11, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Judges and lawyers in Ghana may found themselves wearing local African prints in the courtroom rather than the traditional dress code if a senior Ghanaian Judge has her way.
Justice Gertrude Torkornoo an Appeals Court judge in Ghana has backed calls for reforms in the dress code of the judiciary to reflect values and conditions in the country.
Answering a question regarding the weather conditions in the country and doing away with colonial relics, she told Parliament’s Appointment Committee, on Tuesday that she thinks they will look good and fitter in local fabrics that the traditional white wigs and black robes in the courtroom
Justice Gertrude Torkornoo is one of the three female Appeals Court justices promoted to the Supreme Court by the President.
Her comment about the judiciary’s dressing follows decisions by other jurisdictions to review the wearing of mandatory gown in courtrooms over convenience, aesthetic and anti-colonial sentiments.
Former British colonies including Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe continue to abide by the United Kingdom legal system which requires the wearing of wigs and robes for judges and lawyers.
In November, Malawi, another British former colony in November had their constitutional court suspend the wearing of traditional white wigs and black robes in the courtroom as temperature levels in the country kept soaring.
Responding to a question posed by North Tongu legislator, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Justice Torkornoo said, “I wish we could even wear African print rather than black suits.”
In November 2017, Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo directed that judges wear wigs during court sittings to among other things “to preserve the uniqueness of the work of judges and the legal profession” and “restore the formal nature of court proceedings and eliminate the creeping casualness in the system.”
However, Chairman of Parliament’s Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu believes the status quo must be maintained.
“I wish she [Justice Gertrude Torkornoo] never gets the opportunity to decide what we wear. For those who don’t want to be lawyers, there is the option of becoming others.
“If you choose to become a lawyer, you must live by the tenets of the profession,” the legal practitioner responded