Criticism of judges goes too far

The Edmonton Journal

October 14, 2008

The Canadian Bar Association's Alberta Branch is deeply concerned that the recent, significant criticism of the judiciary has crossed the line from the questioning of judges' decisions to personal attacks on the judges themselves. This is a dangerous development that must stop.

Judges do not make the laws. They interpret the laws that legislatures have enacted, including bail provisions, under the constitutional principle that everyone charged with a crime is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence. When judges make rulings based on these laws and principles, they are only doing their jobs.

People are free to criticize a judge's decision, or to demand that their elected representatives amend or repeal the laws upon which a ruling is based. That is the basis of our democratic system.

But when judges themselves are attacked, or the criticism becomes personal, then judicial independence and the entire rule of law upon which our country is based is threatened.

Judges cannot defend themselves against these attacks publicly, which is why lawyers, as officers of the court, step forward to do so on their behalf.

Personal attacks on judges threaten their independence and the rule of law -- and they are unacceptable.

L. Diane Young, president, Canadian Bar Association, Alberta Branch, Edmonton