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Report No. 77

Chapter 9

Recruitment and Personality of the Trial Judge: Inspection of Courts and Training of Judicial Officers

Recruitment and Personality of the Trial Judge

9.1. Personality.-

Whatever suggestions may be made to improve the working of our subordinate judiciary with a view to eliminate delays and ensure prompt disposal of cases, everything in the ultimate analysis would depend upon the personality of the trial judge. A trial judge indeed is the linchpin of the entire system. Nowhere, it has been said, in the whole range of public office are weaknesses of character, intellect, or psychic constitution revealed more mercilessly than in the discharge of the responsibilities of a trial judge.

The advocates engaged by the rival parties fight tenaciously to protect the interest of their clients. No one can preside effectively over such a situation if he is mediocre in intellect or professional skill, lacking in decisiveness, or is otherwise not emotionally stable. The court-room decorum, it has been observed, has to be maintained with a firm hand if cases are to be tried fairly and expeditiously.

As the case proceeds, the trial judge is called upon to make many rulings and pass interlocutory orders which are of great, strategic and tactical importance for the ultimate decision of the case. These rulings have to be given and orders made under the pressure of the trial and without opportunity for elaborate arguments. The trial judge, it has been said by the American writer H.W. Jones,1 who is shaky in professional understanding, imperfect in moral resolution, or unduly conciliatory in personality, will "inevitably be overpowered and overborne by forceful and aggressive trial counsel.

The evil that weak judges do less often from partiality, as commonly supposed, than from simple psychic inability to stand up to abrasive or strong willed leaders of the trial bar is a bitter but largely untold story in the administration of justice. Other shortcomings which sometimes mar the proceedings in a court of law and leave a bad taste with litigants and witnesses are short temper, peevish nature, irascible disposition, overbearing manners and undue impatience of a trial judge.

Proper and fair trial requires not only professional competence it also needs cool temperament, mental firmness and capacity for remaining unruffled despite the provocation given and the stress and strain caused by the unscrupulous conduct of those who appear during the course of the trial. If, as observed by Roscoe Pound, men count more than machinery in administration of justice, it is imperative that they should be men of the right calibre.

1. Harr W.Jones The trial Judg.- Role Analysis and Profile in Harry W. Jones (Ed.) The Courts, the Public and the Law Explosion, (1965), p.137.

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