Judges must be held to highest standards

- Photo courtesy Pixabay
- Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE EDITOR: There are some jobs that are more than just a job, some professions that are more than a profession. They are of such crucial importance and are held in such high esteem by society that they require their practitioners to be of the very highest calibre and to conduct themselves according to unimpeachable standards. These are vocations, to which one has to be called.

At the very pinnacle of vocations we can count the practice of medicine, religious ministry and even journalism. There is one group, however, which is imbued with tremendous power over us all, but yet can only be called to account by itself. This group is the judiciary.

Because we have been taught to always bow to judges, judges, if they are not careful, may begin to see themselves somewhat as demi-gods. Not only is this an existential threat to we who live under their authority, but it also deprives us of the essential societal guardrails that should be provided by a properly functioning judiciary.

Judges, for all their power and dignitas, are but humankind. They are fallible. Just as there is racism, political bias, cowardice, ignorance and ego within the general public, the judiciary also may be called upon to grapple with these failings within themselves.

Some judicial decisions taken of late can't help but give us pause. Allowing armed criminals back onto the streets happens regularly. This, at least, can be an easy fix if Parliament legislates to deny bail for 120 days to anyone found with an illegal weapon. So can we save many lives, but of course not everyone has this agenda.

Judges cannot be afraid of men's faces. They can't have too high a regard for certain lawyers that appear before them and so bend over backward to accommodate them, even to the extent of adopting their arguments as proven fact.

Their rulings cannot be for the purpose of playing to the gallery, whether that gallery be a particular tribe or of a particular political persuasion. They shouldn't use the bench to put people they don't like in their place, or to demonstrate how big they themselves are. Their judgements should not be coloured by prejudice against or in favour of the race or creed of anyone who stands before them.

Above all, judges must rigorously pursue truth, even in their personal lives. It is their stock in trade. Avoiding facts because they are inconvenient, and adopting conspiracy theories because they mesh with adopted grouses will make for a particularly ill-equipped judge who will not be fit for purpose.

Our High Court can be checked by our Appeal Court, and our Appeal Court is checked by the Privy Council. This, however, does not mean that any court is perfect, no matter how high up you go. They are still peopled by people.

As for we citizens, certainly we must respect our institutions. However, we absolutely also have the right, even the duty, to hold those with authority over us to the highest standards. It is we, after all, who must live here and would be called upon to suffer the consequences of their judgement or lack thereof.


San Fernando


"Judges must be held to highest standards"

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