Gertrude Torkornoo pencilled as Chief Justice to replace Kwasi Anin Yeboah
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to nominate Justice Gertrude Araba Esabaa Torkornoo, a justice of the Supreme Court, for approval by Parliament as the next Chief Justice, multiple sources have revealed to the Daily Graphic.
According to the sources, the Council of State has already given the green light for Justice Torkornoo’s appointment and the President would soon forward her name to Parliament for approval, in accordance with Article 144(1) of the 1992 Constitution.
When approved by Parliament, Justice Torkornoo will replace Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who retires as Chief Justice on May 24, 2023 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 for justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
When she gets the nod from Parliament, the 60-year-old Justice Torkornoo will become the third female Chief Justice in the history of Ghana, following the footsteps of Justices Georgina Theodora Wood and Sophia Akuffo.
Justice Torkornoo will be President Akufo-Addo’s third appointment to the office of Chief Justice since he assumed office in January 2017.
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In 2017, the President appointed Justice Akuffo to replace Justice Wood.
He, subsequently, appointed Justice Anin Yeboah in 2019 following the retirement of Justice Akuffo.
President Akufo-Addo will thus join President John Agyekum Kufuor as the only Presidents in the Fourth Republic to have appointed three Chief Justices during their tenure.
A source with knowledge of the selection process told the Daily Graphic that three justices of the Supreme Court – Justices Torkornoo, Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi and Issifu Omoro Tanko — had been the front runners for the nomination.
According to the source, there had been serious lobbying for the three justices from different quarters, but the President decided to settle on Justice Torkornoo.
“Although all those under consideration were competent and had the requisite acumen to serve the country in the high office of Chief Justice, the President, in his wisdom, decided to go with Justice Torkornoo,” it said.
Powers of Chief Justice
The Chief Justice plays an integral role in the democratic dispensation of the country and is regarded as the chief judge of the country.
Apart from his or her judicial role as a member of the superior courts, the Constitution allows him or her to perform administrative duties pertaining to the Judiciary.
Per Article 125 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, the Chief Justice is the Head of the Judiciary and “shall be responsible for the administration and supervision of the Judiciary”.
The administrative and supervisory roles of the Chief Justice allow him or her to empanel judges for cases, take disciplinary actions against errant judges and officers of the Judiciary Service, including the empaneling of a committee to determine whether a justice of the Superior Court should be impeached from office.
The Chief Justice also administers the oaths of office and allegiance to the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect before they can assume office.
Article 144 (1) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that the Chief Justice shall be “appointed by the President, acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament”.
Who is Justice Torkornoo?
A native of Winneba in the Central Region, Justice Torkornoo was born in Cape Coast on September 11, 1962 and obtained her GCE (Ordinary Level) at the Wesley Girls’ Senior High School and the GCE (Advanced Level) at the Achimota School.
She is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and graduated from the Ghana School of Law in June 1986.
In 2001, she obtained a postgraduate diploma in International Law and Organisation from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University in The Netherlands and further graduated with an LLM in Intellectual Property Law from the Golden Gate University, USA, in 2011.
She also served as a volunteer at the FIDA Legal Aid Service and did an internship at Nabarro Nathanson in London.
She was a pupil associate at Fugar & Co, a law firm in Accra, before she returned in 1994 to become a leading partner in that firm.
From January 1997 to 2004, she was a Managing Partner at Sozo Law Consult.
Justice Torkornoo became a justice at the High Court from May 2004 to October 2012 and was appointed to the Court of Appeal from October 2012 to 2019, when she was elevated to the Supreme Court.
She was part of the seven-member panel of the highest court of the land that unanimously dismissed the 2020 Election petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama challenging the 2020 election victory of President Akufo-Addo.
Some of the leadership positions she has held are Supervising Judge, Commercial Courts; Chair, Editorial Committee of Association of Magistrates and Judges; the Chief Editor for the development of Judicial Ethics Training Manual; Vice-Chair of the E-Justice Steering/Oversight Committee and Vice-Chair of the Internship and Clerkship Programme for the Judiciary.
She is a aculty Member and member of the Governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute.
Justice Torkornoo has also written a number of books, plays, academic essays, articles and presentations.