The Supreme Court has cautioned and discharged Dr Michael Kpessah-Whyte after considering his apology and the plea of his counsel.
Dr Kpessah-Whyte after he was summoned quickly rendered an apology to the bench and the apex which was factored in the decision of the bench today, Tuesday, 30 May 2023.
The caution and discharge was after he had been convicted for contempt by a five-member panel of the Supreme Court after pleading guilty to three charges.
The former Shai Osudoku parliamentary aspirant of the opposition National Democratic Congress, was summoned by the apex court to show cause why his tweet, in which he described the highest court of the land as a "stupid court", did not constitute a case of contempt.
The panel, chaired by Justice Mariama Owusu has Justices Lovelace Johnson, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Samuel Asiedu, and George Kingsley Koomson as members.
The university lecturer was charged with scandalising the Supreme Court, ridiculing the Supreme Court, and prejudicing the highest court of the land.
His lawyer, Dr Justice Srem Sai, pleaded for leniency on his client’s behalf during the Tuesday (30 May 2023) hearing.
He begged the court to temper justice with mercy in its sentencing with a promise that his client would never again, in the rest of his life, utter such words at the court.
Dr Srem Sai also said his client would, henceforth, defend the integrity of the Supreme Court, its justices and the judiciary.
Dr Kpessa-Whyte first pleaded guilty then changed his plea to guilty with explanation before finally pleading guilty to the charges.
The court has gone into chambers to decide on his sentence.
Last week, Dr Kpessa-Whyte 'sincerely apologised' to the Supreme Court of Ghana over the tweet, which he said was meant for the Supreme Court of the United States of America but had been linked to Ghana's by the Ghanaian media.
In a statement, Dr Kpessa-Whyte said he nonetheless takes full responsibility for his tweet and offered an unreserved apology to Ghana’s Supreme Court following a summons to him to appear before the judicial body to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for describing the court in that manner.
The Research Fellow with the History and Politics Section at the Institute of African Studies (IAS) tweeted on the back of the Ghana Supreme Court’s declaration of the election of Mr James Gyakye Quayson of the Assin North consituency, as unconstitutional.
In that tweet on Friday, 19 May 2023, Dr Kpessa-Whyte said: “They have succeeded in turning a Supreme Court into a Stupid Court. Commonsense is now a scare commodity.”
He noted: “A major element in the death of democracies is partisanship in the delivery of justice.”
“Our judges need lessons in political philosophy and ethics,” he added.
A few days after that tweet, Dr Kpessa-Whyte tweeted again to delink his tweet from Ghana’s Supreme Court following some prompts.
He said: "Thanks to all who have asked questions about my May 19th, 2023 tweet. For the avoidance of doubt, I follow judicial decisions in many countries and, so, the said tweet cannot be pinned to Ghana. It has more to do with developments elsewhere including the US. We live in a global village.”
The Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, ordered parliament to expunge the name of Mr Gyakye Quayson from the roll of MPs.
The court, on Wednesday, 17 May 2023, declared as unconstitutional, the election of Mr Gyakye Quayson as MP for Assin North.
A resident of Assin Bereku in the Central Region, Mr Michael Ankomah Nimfa, dragged Mr Quayson to court to restrain him from holding himself as MP after a Cape Coast High Court in July 2021 annulled his election as Assin North MP.
The petitioner had prayed the apex court that James Gyakye Quayson’s continuous stay in office despite a High Court judgment annulling his election offended the Constitution, and was not fair to the people of Assin North.
The Cape Coast High Court had ruled that Mr Quayson owed allegiance to another country other than Ghana at the time of filing his nomination forms to contest the 2020 polls.
The embattled MP had been challenging the decision by the high court at the Supreme Court.
In a retraction and apology statement issued on Thursday, 25 May 2023, Dr 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 attempts 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 associate my tweet with the decision of the Supreme Court in the 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."
The lecturer continued: "The said tweet has resulted in the invocation of the powers of the 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 a 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," he also confessed.
"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," he said, adding: "I hereby retract the tweet in question; accordingly, the tweet has been deleted completely and I pray for forgiveness."