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Report No. 80

Chapter 8


Qualities of a Judge.-

Our recommendations in this Report have been inspired by our desire to maintain public confidence in Judges and the highest standards in the Judiciary. The qualities required of a Judge were described by Mr. justice Tom C. Clark, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court,1 in words which cannot be bettered:-

"Judicial independence, of course, has its corollary of judicial responsibility. The judges must be of the stuff that goes to make a good judiciary. What is this stuff of which I speak? Legal knowledge? Yes, and of sufficient quality to be able to determine the applicable rule of law in a given case together with the wisdom to apply it with clarity and dispatch. Ability to discover the facts? Yes, and an open mind to recognise the truth and separate it from the chaff. A firm but understanding heart?

Yes, and the courage to declare a just decision and enforce it. Integrity? Yes, above all other attributes; and a public and private deportment that is above reproach. A conscience? Yes, but rather than being one that breeds fear and negative action it must be a conscience which at the close of each day's work may whisper softly. 'Today you were truly worthy to wear the robe and enjoy the appellation of judge'. To maintain such a status in the public mind judges, like Caesar's wife, must live above suspicion."

Let us express the hope that our recommendations will, to some degree, facilitate the attainment of these high ideals. We may conclude this Report by citing the words used by John Rutledge, Jr. in 1802 on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to describe the "shield" of the judiciary:2

"As long as this buckler remains to the people, they cannot be liable to much or permanent oppression. The Government may be administered with indiscretion and with violence; offices may be bestowed exclusively upon those who have no other merit than that of carrying votes at elections; the commerce of our country may be depressed by nonsensical theories, and public credit may suffer from bad intentions; but, so long as we may have an independent Judiciary, the great interests of the people will be safe. Leave to the people an independent Judiciary, and they will prove that man is capable of governing himself; they will be saved from what has been the fate of all other Republics, and they will disprove the position that Governments of a Republican form cannot endure."

1. Tom C. Clark, Former Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court Judicial Self-Regulation-The Potential, (Winter, 1970), 35 Law and Contemporary Problems, No. 1, pp. 37, 38, 39.

2. 11 Annals of Cong. 739-40 (1802), dated by trying R. Kaufmann Judicial Independence, (March 1979), Vol. 88, No. 4, Yale LJ 681, 716.

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