On Friday, April 26, 2024, the Law and Society Magazine published an article discussing the options available to lawyers and litigants when they have legitimate complaints about a judge or magistrate’s conduct during court proceedings.

The article outlines that if the issue is minor, such as a procedural mistake, counsel can respectfully bring it to the court’s attention. An example given was a Senior Advocate who politely drew a judge’s attention to punishing a man without hearing his side first. The judge then allowed the man to explain and resolve the matter.

More serious complaints could include bias, prejudice, or interfering in a way seen as prejudicing one party. In these situations, the article states counsel could file to have the judge recuse themselves from the case. Another option for major misconduct is applying to the Chief Judge or head of the court to reassign the case to a new judge.

Making the conduct a ground for appeal after judgment was also highlighted as an approach taken before. A 1986 case was referenced where this occurred.

For behavior considered a breach of the Code of Conduct, counsel or their client could lodge a petition with the National Judicial Council seeking disciplinary action.

However, the article notes that lawyers have discretion depending on the severity. Minor irritating actions by a judge out of personal issues rather than deliberate obstruction may be best ignored. Differences in individual judicial styles are also acknowledged.

Throughout, the magazine emphasizes lawyers must always show courts the utmost respect and never confront or disrespect judges, citing conduct rules for the profession. When complaints are necessary, appropriate authorities should be informed in a respectful manner.

 

 

Swource: Law and Society Magazine