A strike by jurors last Monday, April 17, brought some court proceedings at various High Courts located at the Law Court Complex in Accra to a halt.
Some of the cases affected by the strike included the trial of the 14 persons accused of killing Major Maxwell Adam Mahama and the trial of two teenagers alleged to have murdered an 11–year-old boy at Kasoa.
A source told the Daily Graphic that the jurors decided to embark on strike because the government has for more than one year failed to pay some allowances due them.
At the trial of the 14 accused persons, one of the seven jurors failed to show up leading to the presiding judge, Justice Mariama Owusu, a Justice of the Supreme Court, sitting as an additional High Court judge, to adjourn the case to May 8, this year
With regard to the Kasoa boy murder case, two of the jurors did not show up, a situation that led to the case being adjourned to the next day, with the presiding judge, Justice Lydia Marfo, warning the jurors to appear before the court for the continuation of the trial.
In another case before Justice Marfo, five of the seven jurors failed to show up for the trial.
Under the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30) all the jurors must be present during a trial by jury before proceedings will commence.
A source told the Daily Graphic although not all the jurors had embarked on the strike, the strike was effective because per law the absence of one juror would halt court proceedings.
In ordering the jurors to appear in court for the continuation of the trial, Justice Marfo said that she had not received any formal communication to the effect that the jurors had embarked on a strike.
With regard to the jurors in the trial of the teenagers, Justice Marfo wondered why they had joined the strike action by their colleagues when they were newly appointed jurors.
The presiding judge, therefore, ordered the Registrar of the Court to write to the superiors of the absentee jurors to produce the jurors.
“They should come and show cause why they failed to appear in the court for a hearing when they were aware that they ought to be in court today,” Justice Marfo directed.
The jury system is employed in Ghana for offences that are tried on indictment. Such offences include capital offences such as murder and first-degree felonies such as rape, manslaughter and narcotics.