When I was Deputy Minister at the Ministry of the Interior, I attended an official function at Ho, the Volta regional capital. After the programme, we all retired to the Residency, and I sat next to the Regional Minister, Kofi Dzamesi.
I noticed that within five minutes, Mr Dzamesi had finished eating, and I asked him “why eat so fast?. Why, honourable, were you so hungry?”
His reply: “Captain, as a politician you must always eat very fast, before any negative message comes to disturb you,” taught me a major lesson.
But, poor me, I forgot this lesson, and on Thursday March 24, 2016, at the Court premises, I walked with a colleague to a nearby eatery, and ordered for food. The server brought the food and I was busily explaining how the death of Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, a New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwart, would have a terrible effect on the party, which I belong to, when my mobile phone rang.
Without bothering to check who was calling, I just belled out “yeah, Captain on the line,” and then came the bombshell: “Captain, your friend, Justice Adwoa Coleman is dead!!!!!!!!! She was a Justice of the High Court, at Cape Coast. I could not eat my food.
You see, in this world, who does not know that every human being would die one day – both young and old alike. But, some people are so full of life that, they are so much associated with daily activities, and no one thinks they too, like all of us, will die one day.
Such was Justice Adwoa Coleman to me: she was a friend, nay, a sister, a learned friend, a judge and very close to me.
And you know, I got to know her on the job. One day I appeared before her sitting at Circuit Court 2 and after Court rise, she called me to the chambers and told me that when she was appointed a Magistrate, during the orientation course, addressed the occasion in my capacity as the Deputy Minister of the Interior.
From that day we became good friends, and at times I will just walk to her chambers and say “My Lord, I come just to greet you,” then she will say “Captain sit down, sit down, take water………how are you?”
But there was one thing I noticed about her, which I found quite interesting, almost similar to all Judges on the bench.
Inside her chambers, Justice Adwoa Coleman was a charming very humane person, shared jokes, smiled, told me about her problems, but once in the courtroom, it was a completely different ball game. She behaved as if she did not know me from Adam. I was never comfortable in her Court, always nervous, because she was so unpredictable.
It was from her Court that I got the principle that all law is forty per cent statute and sixty per cent discretionary. The law is there, basic, but it is in the bossom of the Judge!!!!
When she was transferred to Cape Coast High Court I thought that would end our goodwill due to “out of sight” but it didn’t. Instead, our friendship blossomed. She told me she grew up in Cape Coast, her mother lives there, so she was very much at home.
Anytime I went to Cape Coast High Court, I would go to her Court, sitting in chambers, poke my face and say “My Lord good morning” and she would excuse both Counsel and litigants and exchange a few pleasantries, with me. Oh God – Justice Coleman!!!!!!!!!!!
I remember one day after Court, we had a long chat in her chambers, talking about everything from alpha to zoology. She told me how she worked in the Judicial Service at Fiapre, near Sunyani, and so she knew my home town Berekum, and Jinjini in the Brong Ahafo Region, very well.
Since her husband is a doctor I asked her how she related with him, as a professional, and she said, normal, except that at times when she got up at night to write judgments it was irritating, but the husband understood her.
I just cannot believe that Adwoa Coleman is gone – oh my God. I was doing two very controversial cases before her (Cape Coast High Court) and they kept adjourning the cases citing sickness of the Judge, not knowing she was on her way home.
Just last week March 18, 2016, I was zooming at top speed to her court when just before Mankessim, I got a telephone call that Adwoa Coleman was still sick, so the case was adjourned April 19, and I had to abort the journey and make a U turn to Accra
A line in one Presbyterian hymn runs thus: “Yede nisu sre no se ma oyi nkye ha kakra” (with tears we plead that let this person stay here a little longer…………….) but no, the candle of the High Court Judge has ran out. She is now with the sages.
Oh God, our Heavenly Father, please keep My Lord Justice Adwoa Coleman safe in your perfect peaceful hands.
By Lawyer Nkrabeah Effah Dartey