In all countries and almost every civilization that ever existed, there have been men and women who have been appointed as judges. They are responsible for making critical decisions that affect the lives of different people in the society. A judge’s decision can punish the guilty and protect the innocent, which is expected of them. However, on several occasions, judges, human as they are, can be compromised, thereby affecting their abilities to act professionally. Unfortunately, the results are always devastating; everyone involved starts to lose faith in the system. With this in mind, it begs the question: who judges the judges? This piece attempts to answer the question.

1. The Litigants

Well, depending on your geolocation, there are a few entities that judge the judges; among them are the litigants. Unlike other parties, the litigants are the direct consumers of the judicial product or judgment. For starters, the term litigants refers to those involved in a lawsuit, such as the person who sues and the one being accused.

After a ruling has been made, either party (defendant or plaintiff) can judge the judge by appealing the case to a higher court or becoming content with the outcome. Should this happen, judges in the higher court can either affirm or reverse the decision.

The higher court judge will comment on the lower court’s ruling during the appeal. They can blame, praise, or provide any form of remarks regarding the judges’ conduct in the lower court. However, this approach has a loophole because who judges the judges working at the final court of appeal?

Even if the litigants are persistent in overturning a ruling, the last place they can reach is the International Court of Justice or the World Court. That is the final tribunal. Also, several studies have proven that appeal courts rarely reverse lower court decisions.

2. The General Public

The second lot that has the right to judge the judges is the media and the general public. In different parts of the world, journalists are granted the right to attend and film court sessions before airing them to the general public.

Even though the press can’t directly appeal a case they are not involved in, they can do some fact-checking and air out whether a ruling is justified. This helps in shaping the general public’s perception towards a particular judge.

According to the Center for Journalism Ethics, the media can report about judicial bribery, corruption, or any other form of misconduct. Therefore, it attracts the attention of other national bodies, such as the Anti-Corruption Commission.

With the help of the media, the general public forms a reputation around specific judges. Should they feel like a judge is unfair, biased, or corrupt, they can call for their removal, depending on their constitution and other factors. This is mostly applicable in countries that identify with democracy.

3. Other Legal Experts

Within the judicial system, legal experts such as high court judges, lawyers, law professors, and students can judge the conduct of a sitting judge. During court sessions, lawyers have the freedom to call out judges who provide poor rulings or ignore the set rules.

As aforementioned, high court judges can comment on lower court judges’ rulings. Besides that, in class, law professors can point out mistakes made by judges in previous rulings to teach students how to avoid repeating the same in the future.

4. Judicial Oversight and Regulatory Systems

Like all other government systems, the judiciaries in many countries are governed by a judicial oversight and regulatory system. This independent body identifies misconduct among judges and punishes misbehavior such as bribery and bias. In democratic countries, the judicial conduct investigation department can investigate a judge for malpractice. Should a judge be found guilty, they can be impeached, sanctioned, fired, and even put on trial. The procedures for impeaching or trying a judge differ from country to country.

The Key Takeaway

The question of who judges the judges isn’t straightforward, as there are many variants. There is also the small issue of not wanting to interfere with judicial processes, as that, in itself, can contribute to the judges’ ability to deliver sane verdicts.

Judgment should be delivered according to the law and without fear or intimidation. At the same time, judges should strive to be fair in their rulings, as is taught in great depth in all law schools. In the meantime, we can say the litigants, the general public, and judicial oversight and regulatory systems are responsible for judging the judges.

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Last Update: June 21, 2024