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Asked by jotresser | Oct 10, 2007 | University Level > Politics > Advice
jotresser asks:

what makes a good judge?

etutor answers:

Since, in most countries, judges generally enjoy immunity, while removing an errant judge is a difficult and frequently controversial exercise, it is the appointment stage that is critical in ensuring only those deserving of this high office are appointed, and SEEN to be appointed - hence, for example, the move to an Independent Appointments Commission in England and Wales in 2005.

One scholar summarised the key qualities of a good judge in terms of 'four INs' - Integrity, Independence, Industry and Intelligence. At the same time good judges are morally courageous and will thus resist another four INs - influence, interference, indifference and insolence.

Judges must build respect for the independence and fairness of the judiciary, as they represent the authority and symbolism of the court - hence embodying justice for all the participants, be they barristers, the plaintiff, the defendant, the jurors and even the watching general public.

I would therefore sum up the key qualities of a good judge as follows:

Principled and Consistent Decision-Making
Respect for Judicial Precedent and Application of Case Management Principles
Intelligence, yet Intellectual Humility
Civility and Respect (and often an accompanying Sense of Humour)
A Thorough Grounding In, and Knowledge of The Law
A Focus on the Needs of Litigants
Diffusion of Anger and Conflict in the Courtroom

and, therefore, ultimately Accountability To The Public.

Few judges in practice meet all these requirements!

I hope this is helpful.

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