The ranks of practicing lawyers

All English judges, from the ranks of Appeal in ordinary to stipendiary magistrates are chosen from the ranks of practicing lawyers, mainly from barristers. Unlike in other countries where the judiciary is career structured, that is certain lawyers chosen at the beginning of their career to be judges and who work their way up the profession England does not follow this structure. In England becoming a judge at High Court level can only be made thru 'invitation only'.

The Lord Chancellor is the only judge appointed on a 'political' basis. He is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, he is a member of the Government, and when there is a change of Government there is a change of Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, the president of the Family Division, the Vice-Chancellor, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and the Lords Justices of Appeal are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Puisne judges of the High Court, Circuit judges and Recorders are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor. Justices of the Peace are appointed directly by the Lord Chancellor. However until recently the only judicial office opens to a solicitor was that of Recorder, but since 1971 a Recorder of five years standing may be appointed a Circuit Judge, and there are now some Circuit judges who were solicitors. Some solicitors, of course, reached high judicial office after they had switched to the Bar.

A notable example was Lord Widgery CJ, who became Lord Chief Justice after a long career as a solicitor and lecture. The actual process of selecting a judge is 'shrouded in secrecy'. Undoubtedly, as the Bar grows in size and its composition alters socially, the Lord Chancellor is highly unlikely to know every potential candidate. Information about good senior barristers is stored in the so-called 'yellow sheets' and accumulated for future reference. Section 17(4) of the Courts Act 1971 contains the only formal power to remove a judge.

The power relates to circuit judges and states that the Lord Chancellor may, if he thinks fit, remove a circuit judge from office on the grounds of incapacity or misbehavior. Recorders, Assistant Recorders, and Magistrates are governed by similar provisions. Other judges can only be removed by a motion approved by both Houses of Parliament. The mechanisms for disciplining judges who misbehave are more significant in practice than the procedures for removal. There have been a number of occasions where judges have been requested to explain their action before the Lord Chancellor.

In particular, the out spoken Judge James Pickles who was in trouble several times for comments made to newspapers prior to his retirement in 1990. In 1997 the former judge backed Oasis star Noel Galleghers's call for the change in the legislation of drugs. According to the former judge the odds of being killed by Ecstasy were as he put it "one in a million". He also said that the law was to be blamed for the rise in crime because the law had pushed the industry of drugs underground and thus raising the price of drugs and driving people into crime to pay for their habits.

He also accused politicians including Labour Leader Tony Blair of Stifling debates on the issue. Judge James Pickle had been the object of displeasure of the Lord Chancellor since the mid 1980 and was actually removed as a judge. Another judge that was also removed was judge Richard Gee because he was arrested and charged with a conspiracy to commit an offence under the Theft Act 1978. Parliament can also remove a judge who misbehaves. A judge by all means cannot be easily bribed.

If the judge is easily bribed example in 1998 in Malaysia the trial judge in the famous former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim's case the presiding judge Augustine Paul was clearly bribed by certain parties to make sure the accused is sentenced to jail. In the U. K if the parliament comes to know about it and with evidence plus eyewitnesses, parliament will automatically remove the judge. There are several methods or ways of controlling judges; judges are not encouraged to be public about their affairs or personal lives.

A judge cannot be discriminative over sex, race and religion. Even though the judge is given the power to punish he cannot abuse that power by imposing a heavy punishment as the Malaysian judge Augustine Paul did in the Anwar Ibrahim's trial by giving a 12 years sentence. A judge is also not encourage to be to sociable because sometimes this may effect their judgments, also judges are not supposed to be involved in immoral activities because the judges are supposed to have a very strong moral character.

A judge is by no means encouraged or should be allowed to be involved in politics because in considering the role that the judiciary plays in the process of applying the law and in some instances whereby the judiciary actually makes the law. The principal function of the judiciary is to support the institutions of the government as established by law and to expect a judge to advocate a radical change is actually absurd. Judges are supposed to be neutral in the conflict between those who challenge the existing institution and those who control the institution.

Politically judges are parasitic; if a judge were to be involved in politics then it will also infect his judgment. Certain parties will try to play a hand in the judges judgment especially if their interest is at risk; example in Malaysia the judge are involved in politics although it is not transparent but judges in Malaysia are known to be close to certain political parties and this has affected the judgments of judges in Malaysia many times and sometimes to a considerable extent.

Parliament should give severe warning to judges who misbehave; the warning should be at least three times before that particular judge is removed. They should also hold meeting so that they can get ideas on how to remove that particular judge. Say for example that a barrister or a solicitor had seen a judge wondering into a brothel and at that time many people knew this judge the solicitor can write to the parliament for action to be taken against that judge.