(Whatever they say can and will be used against them

in the Court of Public Opinion)     

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Speak Up for your Judiciary
By Richard C. Eymann
WSBA President
[Washington State Bar Association]

    As the legal profession struggles with public misperceptions and misplaced criticisms, we have allowed our judges to be wrongfully castigated by media, politicians and others - without response.  At the heart of our criminal and civil justice systems is our judiciary, comprised of judges who, with very few exceptions, conscientiously interpret and carry out the laws.          Indeed, the preamble to the Code of Judicial Conduct states: our legal system is based on the principal that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us.  The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law.
    Yet on a nearly daily basis, trial and appellate court judges are criticized for decisions clearly based on applicable law, court rules and sentencing guidelines that they are required to follow.
    Is there a rational explanation for why people attack our judiciary?  Who are these people?  Some are legislators or elected officials who may be hoping for knee-jerk responses from an uninformed public to further their personal agendas.  What is ignored is that these legislators and their predecessors wrote many of the laws being enforced by the courts. 

    There are also those who encourage public complaint and then profit by disseminating such complaints, e.g., some radio talk show hosts.  These are people who mock our judicial system, and either cannot understand how our laws are written or interpreted, or simply are ignorant that our judges are called to act upon to protect justice even when it may be unpopular.  Their purpose is to create conflict among their audience, to shock and belittle for the sake of higher ratings and advertising dollars. 


    We have all witnessed brutal editorials when a suspected criminal's case is dismissed on a technicality. Yet to maintain impartiality, judges are essentials barred from responding.  Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states in part:


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Last updated 08/05/2010