Professor Michael Kpessa-Whyte of the University of Ghana, Legon, was yesterday convicted, cautioned and discharged by the Supreme Court (SC), after he pleaded guilty of contempt of court.
A five-member panel presided over by Justice Mariama Owusu advised the professor and member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be of good behaviour as a lot of people look up to him.
Prof. Kpessa-Whyte was summoned by the apex court for making scandalous and disparaging tweets, after the court on May 17, declared the election of Gyakye Joe Quayson, the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North, illegal, null, void and of no effect.
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Prof. Kpessa-Whyte, who was remorseful, first pleaded not guilty, then changed his plea to guilty with an explanation and subsequently pleaded guilty.
Passing sentence, the court said it took into account the apologies of the accused and the plea for mitigation by his lawyers.
In his plea for mitigation, lead counsel, Dr Justice Srem-Sai told the court that the contemnor issued an apology and published it in the Ghanaian Times.
Dr Srem-Sai said “we will ensure such a sad and regrettable occurrence will not ever happen again. The contemnor and all will commit to defending the integrity of this honorable court, your lordship integrity and integrity of the entire judiciary.”
Prof. Kpessa-Whyte was cited for contempt by the SC after a series of tweets he posted two days after the court delivered a judgement in a suit challenging the eligibility of Mr Quayson, the then NDC MP for Assin North in the Central Region.
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The summons alleged that Prof. Kpessa-Whyte posted that “the Highest Court of the land has been turned into a ‘Stupid Court.’
In his apology, Prof. Kpessa-Whyte said “I sent out a tweet on May 19, 2023 at 9:59 am, that shared my reflections on insights from a book by David A. Kaplan (2018). The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court’s Assault on the Constitution, and recent attempt by some Democrats in the US to increase the number of Justices at the Apex Court from nine to thirteen.”
“I have observed that Ghanaweb and other media publications sought to associated my tweet with decision of the Supreme Court in Assin North matter as stated on the face of the Summons to show cause, but honestly at the time of my tweet, I had no knowledge of the Supreme Court’s decision as at 9:59am when I did the tweet.
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“The said tweet has resulted in the invocation of the powers of Apex Court in our country for me to appear and show cause, because the tweet has scandalised the Apex Court of our land and has brought the dignity of the court into disrepute.”
“Sincerely, the tweet was not done with the intent to scandalise, or denigrate a revered institution such as the Supreme Court of Ghana for which I have tremendous amount of respect and admiration.”
“These are consequences I never intended, although I do accept responsibility that, I could have exercised better judgment in my choice of words.”
“Please permit me to state unequivocally that I have no reason to slander our Supreme Court, and I hereby sincerely apologise unreservedly for any pain and discomfort my tweets may have caused the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary.”
“I hereby retract the tweet in question; accordingly, the tweet has been deleted completely and I pray for forgiveness.”
BY MALIK SULLEMANA