On day 14 of the Adom Brands of the Multimedia Group’s Ghana Month celebration of outstanding Ghanaian personalities, we celebrate Georgina Theodora Wood.
Georgina is an example of the saying that what women can do, women can do and do even better as she did not allow the status quo to limit her achievements.
Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood, as she later became a female icon of legal practice in Ghana, following her appointment as the first woman Chief Justice of Ghana and the youngest to occupy the position.
She has also laid a strong foundation for the judiciary of Ghana due to her niche expertise in ADR which has served nations near and far in immeasurable ways.
Her visionary leadership, adoption of cutting-edge strategies to sanitize the judicial system, and commitment to women’s empowerment, demonstrate her unrelenting commitment to justice.
Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood retired in 2017 after five decades of service to the state and is now a member of the Council of State.
As we celebrate Ghana month in March, Adomonline.com brings you a profile of Ghana’s revered former Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood.
Early life and education
Georgina Wood (née Lutterodt) was born on 8 June 1947 in Ghana. She had her basic education at Bishop’s Girls and Methodist Schools, Dodowa.
She next attended Mmofraturo Girls School, Kumasi between 1958 and 1960. Georgina Wood’s secondary education was at Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast, which she completed in 1966.
She proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon, where she was awarded the LL.B. in 1970. Georgina Wood then attended the Ghana Law School after which she was called to the bar.
She has also done the Post-Graduate Officers Training Course at the Ghana Police College.
Justice Wood is recognized as the longest-serving Chief Justice with her tenure spanning a decade, from 2007 to 2017.
This period was marked by remarkable leadership and outstanding reforms in the judicial system of Ghana.
She worked in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, and in collaboration with the Judicial Service, Police Service, Prisons Service, Legal Aid Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and civil society groups to introduce the Justice for All Programme (JFAP) in 2007.
The goal of the initiative was to promote access to justice and reduce overcrowding in prisons by setting up special in-prison courts throughout the country to adjudicate cases of remanded prisoners.
Under Justice Wood’s tenure, she diligently sustained and expanded its reach.
Her efforts subsequently led to her establishment of the first High Court situated in Nsawam Prisons which promoted prisoners’ rights and their access to justice.
A report by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice in 2019 revealed that out of a total of 3,704 inmates who appeared before the courts, 723 had been discharged, 1,193 had been granted bail and 151 had been convicted.
Justice Wood also approved the live broadcast of the Supreme Court hearings concerning the 2012 election petition case, an unprecedented decision that aided in the development of Ghana’s democracy and further enlightened the populace about the electoral process.
Justice Wood affirmed her promise to fight corruption in the judiciary by dismissing judges who were implicated in Tiger Eye Private Investigator’s judicial expose in 2015 which uncovered corruption in Ghana’s judicial system.
On her assumption of office in 2007, Chief Justice Wood (Rtd.) instituted the Annual Chief Justice’s Mentoring Programme which brought together students of second-cycle institutions to expose them to the functions of the judiciary and the administration of justice in Ghana.
This was sponsored by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and was purposely to demystify the administration of justice while encouraging the students to take up future careers at the bar and on the bench.
Later, students from the Akropong School for the Blind in the Eastern Region were included in the program.
By the kind courtesy of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the scope of the Mentoring Programme was expanded to include some vulnerable migrant young girls who worked as head porters on the streets of Accra and were out of school for varied reasons.
Georgina Wood Committee
The Georgina Wood committee was set up on 4 July 2006 to investigate the disappearance from a shipping vessel MV Benjamin of 77 packets of cocaine on 26 April 2006.
It was also to investigate an alleged 200,000 dollars bribe paid to senior police officers by a lady linked to a Venezuelan drug baron, and also the 588 kg of cocaine seized at Mempeasem, East Legon from the Venezuelans.
She was appointed a member of the special team of the International Bar Association (IBA) and International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) to Kenya upon the recommendation of the Kenya Law Society on Judicial Reforms.
Her involvement with Kenya led to her appointment by the Kenyan government with the approval of Kenya’s legislature as one of the three non-Kenyans from Commonwealth countries to serve on the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board in 2015.
The board’s main function was to vet all judges and magistrates appointed before the coming into force of the 2010 Constitution to determine their suitability to continue in office. Justice Wood relinquished this position after eight months to commit more time to her role as Chief Justice of Ghana.
On 7 July 2007, Georgina Wood was decorated with the Order of the Star of Ghana, the nation’s highest honour. She was presented by President John Kufuor.
Georgina Wood is a choir leader at the Ringway Gospel Centre Assemblies of God Church, Accra.
She is also the Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution in Ghana. She has also served as a member of the Kenya Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.
She serves on the board of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights law organization based in New York City.
Every good work deserves commendation, and the good work of former Chief Justice Georgina Wood has not gone unrecognized. As early as 1986, she received the Faculty of Law award for Outstanding Judicial Career at the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Faculty.
President John A. Kufuor, the second president of the 4th Republic, decorated her with the Order of The Star Of Ghana (SOG), the nation’s highest honor in 2007, and in August 2008, she was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree (LLD – honoris causa) by the University of Ghana.
On retirement in 2017, Justice Wood became the first recipient of the newly instituted Legal Profession Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) for her commitment to the Rule of Law.
In 2011, she was the recipient of the Peace Award by The Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, California State University, Sacramento, for her commitment and contribution to ADR since receiving training in the Theory and Practice of ADR from the Centre.
In the same year (2011), she received the international category award from the prestigious Trumpet Awards Foundation which recognizes African American achievement and excellence.
Contribution to Legal Profession
Her contribution to the legal academy is noteworthy due to her close and extensive collaboration with a few universities outside of Ghana.
In 2010, Lady Justice Theodora Wood delivered a lecture on “The Development of Law and Development in Ghana” at the State University of New York College, Geneseo.
She was invited as the distinguished speaker of the President’s Diversity Lecture which was combined with the annual Roemer Lecture on World Affairs.
This invitation initiated her engagements with Fordham University and Cornell University, Ithaca.
Her engagements with Fordham Law School and its Leitner Center for International Law and Justice blossomed throughout her tenure as Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana.
The far-reaching engagements involved study tours to the United States of America to familiarize herself with US governance and legal system, delivery of lectures at events, and networking with faculty members, jurists of the Court, and lawyers.
Through the instrumentality of Justice Wood, several judges and members of the judiciary in Ghana were awarded scholarships to read post-graduate programs at Fordham Law School as well as other universities in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Malta, and The Netherlands as well as in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Her work with Professor Paolo Gallizi who represented the Leitner Center during her ten-year tenure resulted in many successes for the Ghanaian judiciary.
Out of the public lectures she has given, two outstanding engagements were Justice Wood’s lecture on “The Dynamic of Law and Development in Ghana: The Case for Judicial Reform in an Emergent Democracy” delivered on April 9, 2008, as part of The Leitner International Law Lecture Series and her keynote speech at the 2014 Annual Human Rights Prize and Dinner hosted by the same Center.
In addition, Justice Wood was invited as a visiting jurist at the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, California State University in 2011 where she delivered lectures.
In 2016, she was a visiting jurist at the University of Oregon (UO), Eugene.
As part of her engagement with UO, she was one of five speakers of African descent to host workshops and trainings at the university as part of the initiative of the Division of Equity and Inclusion to enhance its work.
The well-planned visit extended beyond the borders of the University to include meetings with judges, the State Bar, a section of the African-American community, and a visit to the Supreme Court.
In 2017, she was appointed by the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) as a Visiting Fellow of Practice for 2017-2018 at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.
The annual AIG Fellowship is awarded to “an individual from West Africa who has demonstrated evidence of outstanding contribution to the public good, through exemplary leadership in public service.”
Georgina Wood is married to Edwin Wood, a retired banker.