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7 June, 2007  
Judges - the best and the worst

Judging the judges. Justinian’s latest no-holds barred judges’ survey is now underway. Nominate the best and the worst on the bench (along with some decent reasons) by June 29. The results will be published in the first week of July

imageMany will remember Justinian’s spine tingling survey of judges, conducted and published at least 10 years ago.

It’s high time we provided another opportunity for members of the profession to vent their feelings about judicial conduct.

We know there is a lot of pent-up anger about judicial slowness, rudeness, bias, arrogance, incompetence, etc.

There are also pats on the back that need be handed out for capacity, courtesy and getting it right.

Here’s the chance to do all that. If a judge, in your experience, falls short of being professionally satisfactory, we’d love to know and so would Justinian’s readers.

Ideally, one’s personal feelings should be divorced from the process, in the same way that judges leave their personal feelings at home when they are ticking the boxes on the silk application forms, or dreaming-up reasons for judgment.

What we’re particularly interested in are responses that go to the professional qualities of individual judges: timeliness, competence, court room manner, decency, indecency, that sort of stuff.

Please also hand out bouquets to the worthy. Good judges don’t get enough plaudits. In both cases we’d like reasons. Judges are supposed to give reasons and those bagging or boosting them should do the same – although there’s no need (or indeed space) for elaborate detail.

We recognise that for practitioners to truly express what they think may have adverse career consequences. Thoughtfully, we’ve come up with a way around the problem.

If you use the reader comments function below you can tick the anonymous post box and you remain just that, anonymous. You can also use the anonymous news tips email facility right here where we do not see the name or email address of the sender.

Alternatively pop your nominations in the post or DX:
Justinian, GPO Box 2669, Sydney, NSW 2001 or DX 979, Sydney.

Whatever way you choose your identity is not revealed, the judiciary can be held to account and your career can proceed unblemished. It’s the cleanest, most straight foward way to participate in this valuable exercise.

Try to nominate three of the worst and three of the best judges, in your experience. Magistrates are part of it too. In particular we’d love to know how Ruddock’s federal magistrates are performing. The deadline is Friday, June 29. None of the commentary submitted will be published until the week of July 2.

In the last survey we said: “Every adverse decision, every slight, every cold shoulder, every stale bikkie could now be revenged.”

While we at Justinian understand the cleansing qualities of revenge, we’d prefer it if your reasons were meaningful as well as passionate. We’ll keep you up-to-date over the next three weeks with how the survey responses are travelling.

File away …


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