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Independence of Judges, their Status and Role in Judicial Proceedings





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Notes: institutional independence - інституціональна незалежність

decisional independence - прецедентна незалежність

preliminary hearing - попереднє судове слухання справи

to be subject to - підлягати чому-небудь

to favour - підтримувати

A judge is a state official, who knows a lot about the law, and has the power to adjudicate on disputes and other matters brought before the court for decision. The independence of judges is guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the country.

In the United Kingdom judicial independence is the doctrine that decisions of the judiciary should be impartial and not subject to influence from other branches of government or from private or political interests. It is guaranteed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, s.3. Judicial independence is also secured by giving judges long, sometimes lifetime, tenure and making them not easily removable from their office. As long as judges hold their positions in “good order”, they remain in post until they wish to retire or until they reach 70.

There are two types of judicial independence in the USA: institutional and

decisional. The former means that the judicial branch is independent of the executive and legislative branches, while the latter lies in the idea that judges should be able to decide cases solely based on the law and facts, without letting the media, politics, or other concerns influence their decisions, and without fearing punishment in the careers for their decisions. Law-abiding federal judges have lifetime appointments. Another condition of judicial independence is proper judicial selection. Many state legislatures prefer election by the general public but many professionals view judicial elections as rewarding political skills rather than legal ones.

The Laws of Ukraine “On Status of Judges”, “On the Constitutional Court of Ukraine”, “On Court Organization in Ukraine”, “On Contempt of Court” and others determine the status of judges and provide their independence. Unity of status of judges is ensured by common requirements for candidates for a post of a judge, their powers, rights and duties, protection from interference in their work, means of legal, social and financial protection, immunity, political neutrality, etc. Guarantees of judges’ independence include the procedure of their election (appointment), secret of making a decision, prohibition on interference in administration of justice, responsibility for contempt of court or judge and so on.

Though there are significant differences between the functions of judges in different legal systems, they have some common functions. In judicial proceedings they are responsible for conducting a trial fairly, orderly and efficiently, observing the established procedures. Judges interpret and apply laws, decide questions related to pretrial release. In preliminary hearings and trial without a jury, they determine both the points of fact and the points of law. In jury trials they instruct jurors: the judge calls the jury’s attention to all most important points in the evidence and favours neither prosecution nor defence. In common law countries they also create law by establishing precedents.

The position of a judge is usually prestigious in society.

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