Monday, May 27, 2013

Atuguba, Addison in hot exchanges - Over list of 203 polling stations

 May 23, 2013 (Front Page)

Day 21 of the presidential election petition hearing ended on a sour note when counsel for the petitioners and the presiding judge entered into an altercation.
The fiery exchanges between Mr Philip Addison andwere so bellicose that sitting had to end abruptly with the bench reminding lawyers of its authority.
Tension soared, tempers flared but the court eventually had its way, and stuck to its unanimous rejection of the petitioners’ documents which sought to introduce re-categorisation of irregularities at 203 polling stations.
Mr Addison’s beef was that he could not comprehend why the court should sustain his questions on re-categorisation of irregularities at the 203 polling stations but disallow the petitioners to tender documents which bordered on the re-categorisation.
Although the bench made it clear that it would not allow Mr Addison to re-introduce the document which had been rejected by the bench, following an objection from lawyers for the respondents that it did not bear any exhibit number, Mr Addison stood his grounds, and urged the court to reconsider its decision, and allow the petitioners to properly label the document and re-tender it today (Thursday, May 23, 2013).
The nine-member panel had sustained objections from the lawyer for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, and the lawyer for the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr James Quashie-Idun.
The basis of Mr Tsikata’s objection was that the list did not have any relationship with matters that had arisen during the cross-examination of Dr Bawumia to warrant it being tendered in evidence as an exhibit.
According to counsel, the attempt to smuggle in what should have been done during examination-in-chief was not appropriate and must, therefore, not be entertained by the court.
Mr Lithur added that the document did not indicate which exhibit it was emanating from.
But Mr Addison explained that the document contained the list of re-categorisation of polling station codes and serial numbers and added that his side could not maintain the old exhibit numbers because the categories had changed.

“The Exchanges”
After the court’s rejection of the documents, Mr Addison informed the court that what it (court) had done amounted to “overruling” its own earlier ruling.
Mr Justice Atuguba expressed the feelings of his colleagues and said, “We allowed you to follow proper procedures which you did not do properly.”
But Mr Addison indicated that “we are talking about substantial justice here,” and accordingly prayed the court to give the petitioners leave to come back today (Thursday, May 23, 2013) with a properly labelled document.
Apparently losing patience with Mr Addison, Mr Justice Atuguba’s seethed:  “You did not withdraw and we voted on it,” adding that “if you had retreated we could have probably considered that.”
Mr Addison at a point pleaded with the court to use its discretion but Mr Justice Atuguba replied that “the matter has been ruled upon”.

No Dictation to Bench
At that point some members of the bench began packing their personal belongings in apparent gesture that the court had closed for the day, while Mr Addison stood on his feet and queried if the petitioners should take it that the re-examination had been curtailed by the court.Philip Addison, Counsel for petitionersPhilip Addison, Counsel for petitioners
Mr Addison’s phrase “through the back door”, which was in reaction to the court’s decision not to allow the tendering of the list for 203 polling stations, infuriated Mr Justice Atuguba, who blurted that there was a limit the bench could tolerate the bar and virtually bellowed, “We cannot take dictation from the Bar.”
 “We are not dictating to the bench. We want to lead further evidence on re-categorisation,” Mr Addison emphasised, but that comment seemed to have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back as Mr Justice Atuguba threw caution to the wind and affirmed, “We have heard you. We understood you. You cannot insist. The matter is closed.”

“The Reporting”
The situation was so intense that counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, had to report Mr Addison to the bench for refusing to hand over the documents to a court clerk to be marked as rejected.
According to Mr Addison, there had been instances where rejected documents of the respondents were not tendered in evidence but Mr Lithur expressed surprise with Mr Addison’s comments and urged him (Mr Addison) to “show respect to the bench”.
Mr Justice William Atuguba spoke on behalf of his eight other colleagues who showed signs of closing for the day, while Mr Addison stood on his feet to demand that justice be served on the petitioners.
His call for the interest of justice seemed to have infuriated the panel the more and this was exhibited through Mr Justice Atuguba, who reminded counsel that he had had the opportunity and had exhausted it.

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