At present, there’s an incident involving a magistrate and an alleged disagreement with a lawyer during a court proceeding. However, it’s essential to clarify that this post will not explore the details of the incident. This stance remains unchanged, even if I had been present in the courtroom at that time, enabling me to provide first-hand information about what occurred.
What particularly captures my attention, however, is the public’s response when the church media attempts to highlight this matter. Interestingly, whenever this specific magistrate makes the news, including this recent incident, he consistently receives a considerable number of comments in his favour.
This leads me to another point.
Currently, judges and magistrates are selected through a merit-based process facilitated by the judicial appointments committee, established in 2016 in accordance with Article 96A of the Constitution.
This committee comprises the Chief Justice, two Judges elected by their peers for a four-year term, a Magistrate elected by their peers for a four-year term, the Auditor General, the Commissioner for Administrative Investigations (Ombudsman), and the President of the Chamber of Advocates.
The committee’s responsibilities encompass receiving and evaluating expressions of interest from individuals aspiring to become judges of the Superior Courts or magistrates of the Inferior Courts (excluding the office of Chief Justice). The selection process takes into account various factors, including general proficiency in the law, intellectual ability, analytical skills, open-mindedness, decision-making capabilities, sound judgment, reputation among peers and the community, specialized expertise or skills, time and stress management, interpersonal skills with peers and the public, and bilingual proficiency.
Apart from assessing professional qualifications, the committee is also mandated to consider the personal characteristics of the candidates. This aspect of the selection process aims to ensure that magistrates and judges not only possess the necessary knowledge and skills to interpret and apply the law effectively but also embody certain personal qualities. These qualities encompass good character, a strong commitment to public service, awareness of social issues, empathy, tolerance, and consideration for others.
In essence, the selection of judges involves a comprehensive evaluation of both professional qualifications and personal attributes, with the objective of appointing individuals who can also uphold public confidence.
Regarding the incident mentioned earlier, I want to emphasize that I cannot comment on its specifics. However, it is apparent that, at least from the public’s perception of the magistrate involved, he possesses the personal characteristics that the committee seems to seek in their selection process.
Certainly, the consistent public support received by this magistrate presents a fascinating and uncommon phenomenon, making it an engaging topic for further scholarly study. Exploring the reasons behind this public response could offer insights into the various factors that influence the expectations of personal attributes from those who hold positions of judgment. Such research could shed light on the dynamics of public perception and the qualities that garner trust and support from the community toward judges and magistrates.