Holding Courts accountable
Counsel came back to office, sad, hopeless. A case she fought for several months led to acquittal. It was a case of rape against a young girl. Prosecutors prosecute, it is their mandated. But Counsel took over the proceedings. The prosecutor was just reading from the indictment. No care. No attention. No cross examination. So Counsel took over. Counsel cross-xed the defendant.
We got a copy of the trial notes. Counsel's cross-x was missing. When asked about the missing cross-x, the Court said: "it's not my duty to record your cross-x. You are neither the prosecutor nor defence lawyer".
So we drafted a petition stating that if the CPC's interpretation of the Court's duty to record trial sessions is unclear, then, we ought to take the matter up to Supreme Court. It was subtle, yet effective message. The Court was surprised at our objection. Then, Court relented, stating, we remove our request to take the matter to Supreme Court. The Court will include our cross-x of the defendant. We have to balance between holding state and judiciary accountable and being deferential. The system is corrupted, so you rely on their good faith. Its not easy. Counsel struck the right balance this time. Could not be more proud of her.
Was a major success for a country where disclosure of documents is a tough battle.
It's all about accountability.