chapter  11
18 Pages

The Judiciary

What makes a good judge? Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, speaking at Equality in Justice Day, October 2008:

‘[When taking the judicial oath, judges and magistrates swear] “To do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.” Ponder the words. I hear them frequently, and they still send a shiver up my spine. It binds my conscience, as it binds the conscience of every judge who takes it. Many qualities are required of a judge . . . He or she must of course know the law, and know how to apply it, but the judge

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must also be wise to the ways of the world. The judge must have the ability to make a decision. Decisions can be profoundly unpleasant: for example, to say to a mother that her children can be taken away from her, or to say to an individual that he is going to go to prison for the rest of his life. Judges must have moral courage – it is a very important judicial attribute – to make decisions that will be unpopular with the politicians or the media and the public, and indeed perhaps most importantly of all, to defend the right to equal treatment before the law of those who are unpopular at any given time. . . . But however you draw up the list, and in whatever order, gender, colour of your skin, religious belief, and social origins are all utterly irrelevant. It is you who is the judge.’