Guaranteeing an independent and efficient judiciary through training

By Judge Jorge Jiménez Martín

Judge Jorge Jiménez Martín is the current director of the Spanish Judicial School. He previously served as a judge in the Court of First Instance in Alcalá, Spain. Judge Jiménez Martín recently shared his views on judicial training with UNODC as part of the Organization's on-going work to promote judicial integrity. All opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author as an external expert and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.


Being a judge in our current society is enormously complex. We are required not only to be good judges, who are in continuous training, but also to be close to the citizens and societal problems. We must demonstrate impartiality, independence, courtesy, diligence, responsibility and a constant commitment to public exemplariness that transmits security and confidence in the judiciary to society as a whole. We must awaken in ourselves a special sensitivity to many issues in our daily lives that, in some way, could compromise our jurisdictional function.

Only with these virtues will citizens understand that their subjective rights are being defined in a serene, reflective and profound manner. Judges' conduct assures the public that the resolutions issued are fair and rigorous; and that whoever exercises the judicial function is endowed with the necessary courage to declare and apply these rights when justice is concerned. In this sense, training is a transcendental element that guarantees the independence of judges, as well as the quality and efficiency of the judicial system.

Therefore, our purpose is to provide excellent training, in the face of the new legal and ethical challenges that the digital society and scientific advancement bring. Judicial training affords integral, specialized and high-quality preparation before judges start their jurisdictional functions.

It is integral because training should not be limited to legal knowledge, but should also aim to furnish judges with the "know-how" they will need when practising their jobs, as well as the conditions of their performance and ethics, the "know be" so to speak.

Training is specialized preparation because it is adapted year after year to the new advances in science that are applied to the legal field and to legislative reforms. Additionally, training should be multidisciplinary because judges need everyday knowledge on new subject matters that are not so strictly legal and in other areas that provide us with fundamental tools for our work. Training opens judges' mindsets to cultural diversity and diverse social realities.

In training, you cannot lose sight of the fact that humility and simplicity are fundamental in the exercise of the judicial function. You cannot think that you are always in possession of the truth- doubt is very healthy and you should not discard others' opinions, because they enrich us with other points of view, or even give different solutions to the problems we are facing. Of course, naturally, we are always subject to the law and the rest of the legal system.

We must remember the component of this profession that entails service to others, to those around us and to the society in which we live. Only then will we achieve excellent and quality public service. It is necessary to make a commitment to independence and impartiality, to service and responsibility, to compliance with ethical principles and, ultimately, to the effective realization of the values ​​incorporated in the legal system. The confidence of citizens in judges effectively upholding constitutional principles and rights is what legitimizes us as a judiciary.