Character & Integrity
This is fourth in a series of posts highlighting my experience in each of the ten factors in evaluating a judicial candidate, as suggested by C. Dale McClain, a former President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in a 2009 blog post:
2. Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures.
3. A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity.
4. Financial responsibility.
5. Judicial temperament.
6. Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office.
7. Record of community involvement.
8. Administrative ability.
9. Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice.
10. Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life.
Judges need to adhere to the highest of standards of character and integrity. In McClain's post (see sidebar), he discusses some specifics:
3. A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity. The integrity of a judge is the keystone of the judicial system. Integrity enables a judge to make decisions based on the facts of a case and the law. A judge with integrity sets aside personal prejudices, personalities and partisan political influences.
It's pretty difficult to describe one's own character and integrity--at least without sounding like a pompous . . . well, you get the idea. I can tell you that I try to live up to the ideals that my parents taught me. Ideals of hard work, honesty, and caring for those less fortunate.
I don't know that it is ever possible to completely set aside one's own personal biases, but I can say that I will make every attempt to do so. For example, I am active in racial justice groups in an effort to increase my own awareness of privilege and of racism. I will endeavor to not judge people in the courtroom based on assumptions, prejudices, or on similarities to people I've known, but instead to judge the merits of a case on the facts and the law.
It's also important to be able to set aside partisan influences. Even though I am a life-long Democrat, I also have friends who are Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, and even apolitical. It's important to recognize that for most people, while we may certainly have different, and even passionately different, beliefs on important political issues, that we share a common belief that whatever our differences, that everyone gets a fair shake in court.