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  • appeal
  • 1959-11-06
  • GLR 365-367
  • Print



Criminal procedure?-Trial with assessors?-Judge's omission to write judgment?-Conviction vitiated


Kofi Adade was charged with child-stealing, and was tried by Mr. Commissioner Christian, sitting with Assessors. At the close of the case for the defence the learned Commissioner made the following note on his record:Crown:"I am not exercising my right to address."Accused is invited to correlate the evidence in his defence."I am innocent and request to be discharged."The Court sums up to the Assessors.Opinion - Blankson - "The accused is guilty." Amonoo - ditto- Ewusi-Emmin - ditto-Crown:"There is no record of any previous convictions."By Court: C/A four years imprisonment with hard labour."The learned Commissioner had thus omitted to write his reasoned (or any) judgment (Criminal Procedure Code, sec. 300(2)), had omitted to call on the accused before passing sentence (sec. 301), and had passed sentence without having convicted the accused (sec. 300(3)), unless "C/A" is meant to convey "I convict the accused as charged."Kofi Adade appealed to the Court of Appeal, though not on these grounds (Crim. App. No. 33/1959). [p.366]



(His lordship stated the facts and the grounds of appeal, and continued:-)

In our view, there is evidence on record upon which the Court might reasonably have convicted the appellant of the offence for which he was arraigned before it. We have, however, been obliged to allow the appeal by reason of errors which are apparent on the record, and which vitiate the conviction and the sentence imposed upon the appellant by the learned Commissioner of Assize and Civil Pleas.

This was a trial with assessors, and there is an essential difference between trial by a court with the aid of assessors, and trial by a court with a jury. Assessors are merely required to give their opinions to the Judge, who must thereafter pronounce his own verdict whether the accused is guilty or not guilty, irrespective of what opinions the assessors may have expressed. Thus Section 277 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides:

"The opinion of each assessor shall be given orally, and shall be recorded in writing by the Court, but the decision shall be vested exclusively in the Judge. Any assessor dissenting from any decision of the Court may have his dissent and the grounds thereof recorded in the minutes."

In a trial by a court with a jury, on the other hand, it is the jury who pronounce the verdict of guilty or not guilty, and the Judge is thereafter required by law merely to record the verdict of the jury, and proceed either to convict or acquit as the case may be in accordance with that verdict. It follows that in a trial by a court with a jury, the Judge is not required to write any judgment stating the reasons for the decision. [p.367]

It is clear, however, that in a trial by a court with the aid of assessors, where the Judge is required to pronounce his verdict irrespective of what the opinions of the assessors may be, the Judge must write a judgment stating his reasons for whatever conclusion he reaches upon the evidence adduced before him. Thus section 300 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides in mandatory terms as follows:-

"300(1) When, in a case tried with assessors, the case on both sides is closed, the Judge may sum up the evidence for the prosecution and the defence, and shall then require each of the assessors to state his opinion orally, and shall record such opinion.

"(2) The Judge shall then give judgment, and in so doing shall not be bound to conform with the opinions of the assessors, but he shall record his judgment in writing and in every case such judgment shall contain the point or points for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for the decision, and shall be dated and signed by the Judge at the time of pronouncing it.

"(3) If the accused person is convicted, the Judge shall pass sentence on him according to law."

In the instant case, it will be observed, from the portion of the record quoted, that the learned Commissioner of Assize and Civil Pleas who presided at the trial failed to give a verdict as is required by law, nor did he write a judgment stating his reasons for rejecting the defence. He in fact accepted the opinions of the assessors as if they had been the verdict of a jury, and he did not in any way comply with Sec.300 of the Criminal Procedure Code.


For these reasons we allowed this appeal, quashed the conviction, acquitted and discharged the appellant

Plaintiff / Appellant

Appellant in person

Defendant / Respondent



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