Chief Justice of Ghana delivers Roemer lecture

On Wednesday, the Union Ballroom was filled to capacity with students, faculty, staff, legal professionals and other members of the local community who came to hear Georgina Wood, chief justice of Ghana, deliver the Kenneth Roemer Lecture on world affairs.

The title of Wood's lecture was "The Dynamic of Law and Development in Ghana: The Case for Judicial Reform in an Emergent Democracy."

Wood situated her discussion within the premise that "there can be no proper development [of democracy in Ghana] without proper legal and institutional framework."

"The Supreme Court creates an enabling environment for the growth and development of a nation," she said.

Wood said the goal of the Ghanaian people is to create and maintain a multi-party constitutional democracy. She said the judicial system should act as a truly powerful branch of a government characterized by a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.

"Sustaining democracy is clearly dependent on a fair judiciary," she said.

A second prominent theme in Wood's lecture was the duty of a governmental judiciary to protect people from abuse. "Access to justice is not a privilege," she said.

Wood did not shy away from identifying areas where her own country needed improvement and identified ways in which the Court has already made progress.

"The last decade has witnessed significant change," Wood said. She explained that she has made a concerted effort to be accessible to all members of the Ghanaian community, especially those who are most disadvantaged. Since that time, funding has increased and more infrastructure and employees have been added to the judicial system, in addition to the courts having outsourced monetary transactions to trusted financial institutions rather than handling the transactions themselves.

New methods of dispute resolution have also been introduced. Wood said that though these new developments have increased physical access to justice for Ghanaians, high monetary costs are still an "impregnable wall."

At the conclusion of the lecture, President Christopher Dahl presented Wood with a gift on behalf of the college, and Wood presented the school with a framed quilt and a gift for the pre-law program - a book on the constitutional law of Ghana. The event closed with a performance of a traditional Ghanaian dance performed by The Ghana Project dance team.