Justice Yonny Kulendi Story: From Prison to Becoming A Supreme Court Judge

The story of Justice Yonny Kulendi is a remarkable one. Despite growing up in a community with limited educational facilities and opportunities, he worked hard to attain success.

His father was a World War II veteran, and his mother a pito seller. He attended Ndama Primary School before moving on to Wa Senior High School (formerly known as Wa Secondary School).

During his fifth year of secondary school, Kulendi spent nearly two years in Wa prisons while on remand.

This experience only strengthened his resolve to become a lawyer and after completing his secondary education, he attended the University of Ghana and earned a bachelor of laws degree in 1992. He later obtained his license to become a barrister-at-law in 1994 from the Ghana School of Law.

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In addition to his legal education, Kulendi also holds a master of arts degree in International Security and Civil-Military Relations from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, United States.

Following his education, Kulendi served his national service at the Legal Aid Board of Accra before joining the Akufo-Addo, Prempeh, and Co. Chambers, where he underwent pupillage.

After setting up his own law firm, Kulendi @ Law, where he served as managing partner, he eventually earned an appointment on the bench.

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As a lawyer, he specialized in areas such as investments, securities, commercial law, criminal law, and litigation.

Additionally, he belongs to the Aspen Global Leadership Network and is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative-West Africa’s inaugural class. He further worked at the Ghana School of Law as an examiner.

On March 17, 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo nominated Kulendi and three others to serve as justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana. His nomination was approved by Parliament on May 20, 2020, and he was sworn into office on May 26, 2020.

Being appointed to Ghana’s highest court of jurisdiction, Justice Kulendi made history as the first Ghanaian from the Upper West Region to achieve this feat. It also places him in a small group of people who were called directly to the Supreme Court bench from the bar.

Justice Kulendi spoke vehemently against putting accused people under “needless” custody conditions in October 2021. He argued that harsh bail conditions and other factors have made justice delivery unfair and challenging in the country.

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Justice Kulendi has criticized the practice of requiring two civil servants among the three sureties when granting bail of up to GH¢100,000. He questioned the legality of this requirement, as there is no law mandating that one must be a civil servant to serve as a surety for an accused person’s bail.

Although Justice Yonny Kulendi was rumored to be a potential replacement for the outgoing Chief Justice Anim Yeboah in April 2023, President Akufo-Addo ultimately appointed Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo as the next Chief Justice. Nevertheless, Justice Kulendi’s achievements as a Supreme Court Justice remain a source of inspiration for many.