The rule of law is foundational to our constitutional democracy, and an independent judiciary is essential to ensure that the rule of law is respected and endures. I submit to you that, as lawyers, we owe a special duty to the public and the legal system in which we serve to see to it that our judiciary remains independent and our judges remain safe. As lawyers, we need to use our skills as advocates and influencers to explain why the importance of an independent judiciary isn’t lessened or diminished on any situational basis.
Stressing civility in our dealings with opposing counsel and clients is obviously the right thing to do. However, we often forget that the judge or court, too, is entitled to be treated with the same dignity and respect. Simply put, when members of the public come to believe that even lawyers have no belief in or respect for the judiciary, we will have failed in our duty and ability to uphold the rule of law for the benefit of all, and chaos will ensue.
Whether we like it or not, lawyers are leaders. As such, we should hold ourselves to a high standard of conduct, since so many of our clients, friends and acquaintances look to us for information and guidance. When we allow ourselves to dispatch with civility and engage in personal attacks on a judge or court because we disagree with or are disappointed by the outcome of our case, or any case, we have failed in our roles as leaders.
The ISBA has always and will always champion the rule of law and the critical role that a safe and independent judiciary plays in it. We support our judges and thank them for doing a difficult job in increasingly difficult times.