The Ball Bearings by which Justice Turns

“The ability of Canada’s legal system to function effectively and to deliver the kind of justice that Canadians need and deserve depends in large part on the ethical standards of our judges.” –Canadian Judicial Council

Here in Canada, our 6 primary ethical principles that provide direction and orientation for our judiciary are stellar in nature. Allow me to lay them out here for your reflection and let us know why you think they are acceptable for exercising good judgement. The commentary below will give you a general idea for what each of these terms mean.

1. Purpose
2. Judicial Independence
3. Integrity

4. Diligence
5. Equality
6. Impartiality

Purpose: Begin with the end in mind. The purpose or directive of the judiciary is to provide good judgement by keeping to the truth. Therefore ‘principles of reason’ are required, as well as an excellent understanding of the law as it pertains to the natural order of things.

Judicial Independence: “Independence of the judiciary refers to the necessary individual and collective or institutional independence required for impartial decisions and decision making.” (CJC) We require a sufficient degree of autonomy and the ability to work within a highly interactive group dynamic.

Integrity: “Public confidence in and respect for the judiciary are essential to an effective judicial system and, ultimately, to democracy founded on the rule of law.” (CJC) Just as a chair requires all its parts in order for it to remain whole, so does justice itself. (E.g., judicious-universal-symbiotic-truth-intelligence-community-ethics.) But it’s not enough for all the relational parts to be present, they have to work together in an appropriate way.

Diligence: “Diligence, in the broad sense, is concerned with carrying out judicial duties with skill, care and attention, as well as with reasonable promptness.” (CJC) How often have we heard the oldtimers tell us that if you expect to get anything out of life then you’ll have to work hard for it! On the contrary, it’s those who apply diligence that are successful. Hard work alone will get you a bad back but being smart about how you apply yourself will give you the edge.

Equality and Impartiality: These principles are probably the most intuitive to grasp for a reasonable, fair minded and informed person. Generally speaking, equality prevents discrimination against others based on religion, sex, etc., and impartiality has to do with avoiding prejudice (pre-judgments). These ideals help us to think fairly as well as treat others fairly.

So now that we have briskly surveyed the primary bearings of applying good judgement, let us pause and consider their relevance. How necessary are these principles and are they sufficient for guiding the ship. If you have good reasons to believe in any of these 6 ethical principles of our judiciary, then feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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2 Responses to The Ball Bearings by which Justice Turns

  1. “Hard work alone will get you a bad back but being smart about how you apply yourself will give you the edge.”

    I oughtta get this tattooed on my forehead so I can read it in the mirror at the start of each day.

    The temptation to simply “grind away the day,” to spend it working on anything, without being thoughtful about just what that thing is, is insidious.

    I realize I’ve taken the tenet of Diligence out of its judicial context here, but it’s struck a personal chord. It’s so important to bring intention and attention to our work, but too often people (myself included) would rather just *feel busy* than actually commit to doing a single meaningful thing, and to doing it well.

    Better to do a single thing well, even at the expense of other worthwhile pursuits, than to frantically accumulate a heap of unfinished projects.

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