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Chief Justice of Queensland speaks out for judicial independence


Catherine Holmes, the Chief Justice of Queensland has a piece in The Australian concerning some of the unfair and ill-informed criticisms of sentencing decisions in recent years:


Importantly, she does not say that decisions should not be criticised. However, given that judges are not supposed to respond to criticisms or defend their own decisions, personal attacks against judges and criticisms of decisions which do not show the reasons for the decisions undermine confidence in the Courts, and can threaten judicial independence:

“I am concerned about tendencies in media and political discourse to speak about courts and their decisions in ways which can, directly or indirectly, undermine judicial independence.

This may sound a little precious, so I had better start by emphasising that I am not suggesting that anyone should desist from criticising judicial decisions. Discussion and criticism are to be expected in a healthy democracy.

My plea is for better informed criticism, because public confidence is essential to the preservation of what I contend is a very good legal system; and for better targeted criticism, because there seems to be an increasing, damaging willingness to attack that system as a whole on the strength of dissatisfaction with a very small number of decisions.”

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