The integrity of the judge is, in the final analysis, the keystone of the judicial system; for it is integrity which enables a judge to disregard personalities and partisan political influences and enables him or her to base decisions solely on the facts, and the law applicable to those facts. It is, therefore, imperative that a judicial candidate’s integrity and character with regard to honesty and truthfulness be above reproach. An individual with the integrity necessary to quality must be one who is able, among other things, to speak the truth without exaggeration, admit responsibility for mistakes and put aside self-aggrandizement. Other elements demonstrating integrity are intellectual honesty, fairness, impartiality, ability to disregard prejudices, obedience to the law and moral courage.

Legal Knowledge and Ability

A judge should possess a high degree of knowledge of established legal principles and procedures and have a high degree of ability to interpret and apply them to specific factual situations.

Legal knowledge may be defined as familiarity with established legal principles and evidentiary and procedural rules. Legal ability is the intellectual capacity to interpret and apply established legal principles to specific factual situations and to communicate, both orally and in writing, the reasoning leading to the legal conclusion. Legal ability connotes also certain kinds of behavior by the judge such as the ability to reach concise decisions rapidly once he or she is apprised of sufficient facts, the ability to respond to issues in a reasonably unequivocal manner and to quickly grasp the essence of questions presented.

Mediation is not the practice of law.

Mediation is a process in which an impartial individual assists the parties in reaching a voluntary settlement. Such assistance does not constitute the practice of law. The parties to the mediation are not represented by the mediator.

Mediators’ discussion of legal issues.

In disputes where the parties. legal rights or obligations are at issue, the mediator’s discussions with the parties may involve legal issues. Such discussions do not create an attorney-client relationship, and do not constitute legal advice, whether or not the mediator is an attorney.

Professional Experience

A judge should possess a judicial temperament, which includes common sense, compassion, decisiveness, firmness, humility, open-mindedness, patience, tact and understanding.

Judicial temperament is universally regarded as a valid and important criterion in the evaluation of a candidate. There are several indicia of judicial temperament which, while premised upon subjective judgment, are sufficiently understood by lawyers and non-lawyers alike to afford workable guidelines for the evaluator.

Among the qualities which comprise judicial temperament are patience, open-mindedness, courtesy, tact, firmness, understanding, compassion and humility. Because the judicial temperament requires an ability to deal with counsel, jurors, witnesses and parties calmly and courteously, and the willingness to hear and consider the views of all sides. It requires the ability to be even-tempered, yet firm; open-minded, yet willing and able to reach a decision; confident, yet not egocentric. Because of the range of topics and issues with which a judge may be required to deal, judicial temperament requires a willingness and ability to assimilate data outside the judge’s own experience. It requires, moreover, an even disposition, buttressed by a keen sense of justice which creates an intellectual serenity in the approach to complex decisions, and forbearance under provocation. Judicial temperament also implies a mature sense of proportion; reverence for the law, but appreciation that the role of law is not static and unchanging; understanding of the judge’s important role in the judicial process, yet recognition that the administration of justice and the rights of the parties transcend the judge’s personal desires. Judicial temperament is typified by recognition that there must be compassion as the judge deals with matters put before him or her.

Factors which indicate a lack of judicial temperament are also identifiable and understandable. Judicial temperament thus implies an absence of arrogance, impatience, pomposity, loquacity, irascibility, arbitrariness or tyranny. Judicial temperament is a quality which is not easily identifiable, but which does not wholly evade discovery. Its absence can usually be fairly ascertained.

Wide-ranging interviews should be undertaken to provide insight into the temperament of a judicial candidate.

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