This section contains opinion pieces written by Global Judicial Integrity Network participants, who are members of judiciaries worldwide. The pieces focus on the personal opinions and experiences of these external experts on issues related to judicial integrity.
Please note that all opinions expressed in this section of the website are the opinions of the authors, who are external experts, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.
Judicial misconduct breaks down the very fibre of what is necessary for a functional judiciary- citizens who believe their judges are fair and impartial. The judiciary cannot exist without the trust and confidence of the people. Judges must, therefore, be accountable to legal and ethical standards. In holding them accountable for their behaviour, judicial conduct review must be performed without invading the independence of judicial decision-making. This task can be daunting.
Mr. David J. Sachar, Executive Director of the Judicial Discipline and Disciplinary Commission in Arkansas, United States and Advisory Board Member of the National Center for State Courts, recently shared his views on judicial misconduct with UNODC, as part of the Organization's on-going work to exchange good practices in the investigation of misconduct.
For more than three decades, information and communications technology (ICT) advancements have burst into the operations of courts and prosecutors' offices promising transparency, efficiency and radical changes to working practices, such as paperless courts. Even if in most jurisdictions such promises have yet to be fulfilled, software programmes and algorithms are already executing growing chunks of judicial procedures. The impacts such technologies have on the functioning of justice systems and the values endorsed by the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct are mostly positive.
The concept of judicial independence, in its theoretical sense, may appear to be a banal and non-contentious issue. However, when it is put into practice in the discharge of one's duties as a judge it becomes a loaded issue which is critical in the delivery of real and substantial justice. The reality is that the institutional independence of the judiciary goes to the very root of the ethical and constitutional obligation owed by a judge in exercising their duty of care to those parties who appear before them. It is essential, however, that the judge feels unencumbered by the possibility of negative consequences which may flow from the decision which they may make.
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.
The European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) believes that councils and judiciaries should assume a new role to achieve a better balance of power and to strengthen the position of the judiciary, which necessitates expressing and explaining the role of an independent and accountable judiciary, within a state governed by the rule of law. In addition, councils for the judiciary should be instrumental in helping educate society about what judges do, and it is therefore essential for the councils and the judiciaries to develop their communication with the general public.