Justice Gertrude Torkornoo has been sworn in as the next Chief Justice of Ghana.
Her swearing-in took place at the Jubilee House on Monday, June 12, 2023.
Justice Gertrude Torkornoo assumes the role of Chief Justice following the retirement of Justice Kwesi Anin Yeboah in May.
Her appointment was approved by Parliament on Wednesday, June 7.
Justice Torkornoo during her inaugural address after her swearing-in ceremony made a commitment to leverage technology to improve the efficiency of the Judiciary.
“Two decades since tackling the issue of automation, only 62 percent of courts use computers as part of their work. Computerization is only the first process of the automation of court processes. After acquiring electronic devices to capture records of court processes, the registry, and offices of stakeholders must be networked in other to allow for the next level of automation.
“This is a national burden and we are slowed by any sluggishness in the nation’s digitalization drive. Currently, our records show that only 26 percent of courts are networked and only 12 percent of courts have been brought into the bracket of full automation in the operation through the digitalization of their processes,” Justice Torkornoo said.
Below is the full profile of Justice Torkornoo:
Full name: JUSTICE GERTRUDE ARABA ESAABA SACKEY TORKORNOO
Supreme Court, Judicial Service of Ghana
Date of Birth – 11th September 1962.
Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo (Mrs ) joined the Judicial Service in 2004 as one of the first Justices of the Commercial Division of the High Court. She has been active in the core reform agenda and activities of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana (JSG) since 2005.
The organs through which these reforms have been implemented have included the specialized divisions of the High Court, the Judicial Training Institute, administrative committees set up to ensure the implementation of the automation and digitalization of court work and administration of JSG, the streamlining of alternative dispute settlement mechanisms in justice delivery, and communication channels between the Judiciary and its stakeholders.
The leadership roles Justice Sackey Torkornoo has played in ensuring the achievement of judicial reforms include being vice chair of the E-Justice Oversight and Implementation Committee (E-Justice OC) from its inception in 2019 and chair of the E-Justice OC since August 2021.
She has served as a member of the faculty and Governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute, vice chair of the Internship and Clerkship Committee of the Judiciary since 2012, Supervising Judge of the Commercial Division of the High Court since 2013, member and chair of the E-Judgment Committee since 2010, member and chair of the Publications and Editorial Committee of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana since 2006, and member and chair of various ad-hoc committees needed for the smooth administration of the work of JSG.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo has served as a judicial leader in the development and oversight of several reform projects of the Judiciary involving the European Union, USAID, DFID, and collaborations with other African countries. She has also been a member of the Law Reform Commission since 2016.
E-JUSTICE Oversight and Implementation Committee
The leadership requirements of this Committee include liaising with all external stakeholders in the provision and sustainability of the infrastructure of the E-Justice, setting up and overseeing the activities of all staff, Judges and committees involved in managing the infrastructure, ensuring cultural change from the use of manual systems to operating in the virtual realm and planning for the progressive achievement of electronic justice delivery nationwide.
Currently, her work as chair of E-Justice includes ensuring the streamlining into efficiency, the use of the Ghana Case Tracking system commenced as part of the Security Governance Initiative implemented by the Judicial Service of Ghana, Ghana Police Service, Economic and Organised Crimes Office, Ghana Prisons Service, National Signals Bureau, and Ministry of Justice and Office of the Attorney General. This work is being supervised by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization.
The E-Justice Oversight Committee has also conducted a close examination of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules CI 47, the District Court Civil Procedure Rules CI 59, and the Criminal and Other Offences Act Act 29 to ensure that all rules that govern judicial proceedings allow for easy implementation of E-Justice. The outcomes of that work will be presented to both the Rules of Court Committee for statutory reforms, and to the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization for incorporation into the scope of works for the next phase of E-Justice deployment.
Supervision of the Commercial Division of High Court
As Supervising Judge of commercial courts since 2013, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has set the agenda for and chaired the meetings and programs of the Users Committee of the Commercial Courts. She has quietly ensured the sustenance of a keen culture of efficiency in the commercial division of the High Court nationwide through leadership initiatives such as ‘brown bag learning sessions’ for Judges of the court, consistent meetings with staff and leadership of the court, engagements with external service operators such as process servers, valuers, auctioneers and the Users Committee of the court and presentation of policy briefs to Chief Justices on needed reforms in commercial justice delivery as well as the administrative needs of the court.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo presided over the implementation of the Business Environment Engineering Project (BEEP) funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom.
Her leadership directions in that project ignited and provided the Ministry of Trade and Industry with guidance on the introduction of Users Committees into other institutions that participated in the BEEP project. The BEEP project further influenced the active development of the Business Environment Reforms being streamlined into national institutions by the MOTI.
She serves as chair of the Technical Working Group on ‘Enforcing Contracts’ set up to steer change in the business law environment. Outcomes of the work of the BEEP project within the Judiciary included the design of necessary reforms in the monitoring and evaluation of data collection currently being implemented by the Judiciary, the design of necessary reforms in the post-judgment and execution part of justice delivery, and reforms in streamlining of ADR in commercial justice delivery in Circuit and High Courts that led to the passage of High Court (Civil Procedure) Amendment Rules 2020, CI 133.
As part of the faculty of the Judicial Training Institute since 2005 and a board member of the JTI since 2018, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has actively participated in initiatives to enhance the learning of Judges through awareness of distinctions between judicial skills, the social context of judicial work and core black letter law. This work has included being a trainer of trainers, the development of a curriculum for teaching Judicial Ethics, a manual for training in Judicial Ethics, and the lacing of applications of ethical principles into the daily routines of Judges. Through being a constant trainer in Judicial Ethics, she has worked to motivate Judges to aspire to excellence through the development of research and writing skills, case and courtroom management, as well as the application of judicial ethics in their work and private lives.
After assuming the chair of the Editorial Committee for the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana in 2009, Justice Sackey Torkornoo led the publication of an annual magazine for Judges, ensuring that issues pertinent to the development of competence in the judicial career and the discharge of the Judiciary’s constitutional mandate were brought to the fore in this magazine. She has also chaired the E-Judgment Committee responsible for developing electronic research resources for Judges since 2012 and has achieved the current creation of an e-judgment research resource with key-word search-ability properties for Judges.
In her work as vice chair of the Internship and Clerkship Program, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has actively participated in the smooth administration of the internship and clerkship program run jointly with law faculties, law firms, the Judiciary, the Ghana Bar Association and the Ghana School of Law since 2012.
In 2010, Justice Sackey Torkornoo became the first awardee of a scholarship by the International Association of Women Judges, after a global selection process. She undertook and excelled in an LLM in Intellectual Property, International Law and Internet Law at the Golden Gate University, San Francisco where her thesis on reforming Ghana’s Copyright Law relating to Folklore and Art was published as the lead article in the University’s Annual Survey on Comparative and International Law.
In 2015, she was awarded the Women of Excellence Award in Judicial Integrity under the auspices of Ministry for Gender, Child and Social Protection.
In 2016, she was made a Fellow of the Ghana Institute of Construction.
While not compromising on the quality of her courtroom work and judgment writing, Justice Sackey Torkornoo has become noted for excellence in administrative leadership, continuing study, teaching, writing, and the judicial ethics of competence, diligence and integrity. She has served under and worked closely with four Chief Justices namely Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah (decd), Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood (Rtd), Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo (Rtd) and Chief Justice Anin Yeboah.
She was promoted to the Court of Appeal in October 2012 and to the Supreme Court in December 2019.