Florida's official nickname is "The Sunshine State" because of its warm weather throughout the year, but to those who work with Florida's government, it is considered "The Sunshine State" because of the public's access to Florida's branches of government. Any citizen can simply make a public records request to obtain information about almost any activity of Florida's government. This access to information includes Florida's judiciary and certain disciplinary actions. In fact, cases of judicial misconduct where probable cause has been found and formal charges filed are published on the website of the Supreme Court of Florida.
Created in 1966 by amendment of the Florida Constitution, the Judicial Qualifications Commission ("JQC") is an independent state agency tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct and disability by all judges within the state of Florida.
The independence, transparency and integrity of the judicial system is a fundamental factor of the rule of law, as is public confidence in the judiciary. In the rapidly changing global environment, numerous issues continue to present new challenges that are particularly sensitive for justice matters. These include gender issues, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the concept of judicial immunity for judges, and the increasing use of social media by judges and judicial staff. On these matters and others, the Global Judicial Integrity Network has been supporting judiciaries around the world.
Launched in 2018 by UNODC, the Network has already left a large imprint on judiciaries, creating a space and a support system that continues to consolidate. A unique platform of judges, for judges, it aims at strengthening judicial integrity and preventing corruption within judiciaries. This is achieved through the networking opportunities, the facilitation of information sharing, and the response to existing and emerging challenges related to judicial integrity.
With the judiciary a necessary cornerstone of law and order, ensuring a common understanding of ethics and the role that the court plays in society as well as working towards fair and equitable representation in the legal system is crucial. With this in mind, UNODC this past week convened a fruitful high-level discussion to mark the Judiciary of Iraq bringing the Global Judicial Integrity Network past the landmark threshold of 60 training sites for the Judicial Ethics Training Tools, as well as celebrate the commitment of Iraq to their implementation. The discussion featured the Chief Justices of the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq, along with a number of national judges who collectively shared their thoughts and ideas on this area.
A woman's road to accessing justice was already precarious prior to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Across the world, an estimated 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 years were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. A portion of these women form part of the 2.5 billion who are deprived of various forms of legal protections.
The crisis has brought the resilience of justice systems into sharp focus, with resources being diverted away from the justice sector towards more immediate public health measures. Institutions and services such as the courts, hotlines, crisis centres, legal aid clinics and social welfare services are being scaled back in many countries. Justice institutions have also been compelled to operate differently. Courts are prioritizing "exceptionally urgent" cases and placing restrictions on in-person appearances.
Adopted in 2006, the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct offer international standards for the ethical behaviour of judges, providing judiciaries worldwide with a set of agreed-upon core principles which help guide their work. Indeed, these six principles - independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, and competence and diligence - are considered central in efforts to build judiciaries which are free of corruption and which ultimately act for all members of society.