Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Judicial Studies (LL.M.)


Duke University School of Law


Civil cases in Ghana are tried by the bench. Criminal cases are also handled by bench trials, except for certain indictable offenses, which may be tried by a judge or jury. Not all serious offenses are tried by jury. And a trend is developing away from jury to bench trials. For example, treason is punishable by death, but the case is determined in a bench trial by three High Court Judges. Robbery, which had been an indictable offense, is now tried by either jury or bench trial at the discretion of the Attorney-General; and prosecutors consistently have been opting for bench trials in robbery cases. Some stakeholders in the Ghana justice system are calling for the abolition of jury trial in all cases, while others are advocating its retention, at least for offenses punishable by death or a life sentence. A third group is also advocating for expanded use of jury trials, but with modifications. The question, however, remains: Whether a jury or bench trial is best suited for Ghana’s criminal justice system?

Chapter One includes an introduction and purposes of the thesis.

Chapter Two reviews the jury trial in Ghana and Ghanaians’ perceptions of the jury.

Chapter Three reviews the criminal trial systems in Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, England and Wales, United States, and Germany.

Chapter Four evaluates the criminal justice systems of other countries discussed in chapter three and the extent that those systems might influence criminal justice in Ghana, particularly jury trials.

Chapter Five proposes modification of the Ghanaian jury system that would respond to the needs of the people.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Jury, Judges, Ghana, Administration of justice, Fair trial