Peering into the Private Lives of Judges: Reconciling Judicial Accountability and Privacy
Members of the Canadian courts are expected to maintain a rigorous degree of professionalism and good conduct in maintaining an independent, impartial and accountable judiciary. Yet, judges bring their diverse past experiences and values to bench and lead complex lives off the bench. Through examination of the judicial discipline of former Justice Lori Douglas in 2010, this paper makes a two-fold argument. Firstly, although the integrity of conduct by members of the judiciary must be held to the highest standard of public accountability, diverse backgrounds and lived experiences of judges allow for better informed decision-making and thereby, increase public confidence. Secondly, privacy of non-judicial activities ought to be protected to the extent that such activities do not erode public confidence in the judiciary. The diversity of lived experiences and backgrounds of judges is what makes the bench representative and credible in the eyes of Canadians. It is important that policies of the Canadian Judicial Council address these issues in creating workable inquiry and disciplinary procedures that truly further judicial accountability in the eyes of the public in a manner that is efficient yet mitigates harm to individual judges under investigation.
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