The Supreme Court has frowned at the cross-examination style of Tony Lithur, President John Mahama’s lead counsel in the unprecedented election petition currently being heard by the apex court of Ghana.
Apparently, the nine-member panel of eminent justices of the Supreme Court was not exactly amused by Tony Lithur’s monotonous five-hour cross-examination on Thursday of the star witness of the petitioners, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia.
In an April 19, 2013 statement signed by Justice William A. Atuguba, president of the panel and titled, ‘The mode of continuation of cross-examination of 2 nd Petitioner on pink sheets’, the Supreme Court sternly indicated that it would not tolerate unnecessary waste of time from counsel, as they cross-examine witnesses in the case.
Tony Lithur and other lawyers have been asked to give advance soft-copies of exhibits they want to interrogate on, to spare the bench the ordeal they were subjected to during Thursday’s proceedings.
‘In order to expedite the hearing of the petition, the panel hereby directs that the cross-examination on the pink sheets be continued as follows: Counsel for the 1 st Respondent (President Mahama) do list out the residue of the pink sheets in the manner here to be identified by him in his cross-examination of the 2 nd petitioner (Dr Bawumia) which he claims were duplicated, in their mode and manner of generation and extent of their user by the petitioners for the purposes of proof of their petition,’ Justice Atuguba wrote.
In his bid to prove that the petitioners, led by the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have mischievously duplicated the famed ‘Pink Sheets’ to show evidence of alleged electoral malpractices, Tony Lithur physically pulled out about 40 Pink Sheets which he believed were duplicated.
The process was basically a one-way interrogation; the President’s lawyer pulls out a sheet and passes it around the court and afterwards asks Dr. Bawumia in the witness box to verify if the sheets were deliberately duplicated.
Each time he was asked, Dr Bawumia, an Economist, denied. ‘No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to show any duplication,’ the witness was forced to retort at a point during the one-way cross examination.
After the long drawn stalemate, Tony Lithur charged at Dr. Bawumia in a desperate attempt to lure him to slip and admit to the presumed duplication of evidence. ‘I suggest to you that you deliberately duplicated these pink sheets to deceive the court,’ he said.
But Dr Bawumia responded, ‘I suggest to you that I did not deceive the court,’ an answer which drew a loud laughter from the crowd who suddenly found humour in a boring cross-examination.
The audience in the court was clearly bored with the cross-examination as some were spotted yawning while others dozed off.
The Supreme Court has made it clear that it will not tolerate a repeat of the episode.
Below is the statement from the Supreme Court outlining guidelines for subsequent cross-examinations:
1. NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO
2. DR MAHAMUDU BAWUMIA
3. JAKE OTANKA OBETSEBI-LAMPTEY PETITIONERS
1. JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA
2. THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
3. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS RESPONDENTS
MODE OF CONTINUATION OF CROSS-EXAMINATION OF 2 ND PETITIONER ON PINK SHEETS
In order to expedite the hearing of the petition, the panel hereby directs that the cross-examination on the pink sheets be continued as follows:
1. Counsel for the 1 st Respondent do list out the residue of the pink sheets in the manner here to be identified by him in his cross-examination of the 2 nd petitioner which he claims were duplicated, in their mode and manner of generation and extent of their user by the petitioners for the purposes of proof of their petition.
2. The said list should be electronically served forthwith by counsel for the 1 st respondent on all other parties.
3. At the resumed sitting on Monday, 22/04/2013 counsel for the 1 st respondent may put the said list by way of further cross-examination to the 2 nd petitioner for his response.
4. The said list can then be tended in evidence.
5. Counsel for the 1 st respondent or any other party may bring along with him his or their copies of the pink sheets.
W. A. ATUGUBA
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran