The Bailiff, William Bailhache, insisted the judiciary has respect for the “great traditions of this Island” in his speech at the annual Assize D’Heritage today.
The Bailiff said the historic ceremony today, at the Royal Court, was a chance to reflect on another passing year amongst the judiciary.
“The Assize H’Heritage is one of the great traditions of this Island and the oldest surviving land court in Europe, when the Lieutenant Governor and Seigneurs have the opportunity of reviewing their oath of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and when Advocates renew their oaths of office.
“The ceremony may seem out of date, the underlying principles certainly are not.”
In his speech, the Bailiff insisted the public have very differing opinions of the judiciary.
He said: “The public have a quite contradictory view of Judges. One minute they are considered to be senile and out of touch and another they are the very people to conduct an independent enquiry into the conduct of others.
“They are extraordinarily conservative, well to do, upper middle class people, completely out of touch with what real people have to cope with, imposing savage sentences on those who do not deserve it. Until a Judge exercises discretion to impose a lenient sentence, particularly these days in relation to any form of sexual offence, whereupon he is a wishy washy liberal unable to punish anybody properly.”
The Bailiff closed his speech by saying the judiciary must remain independent from the legislature, namely States members.
He said: “The other side of the coin is the need for the executive and the legislature to understand that, powerful though they are, they must not trespass on the powers and duties of the courts. The business of doing justice is not consistent with the pressures that are put on an elected person. The Judge is not concerned with the views of the electorate or the media in the same way that those who are elected may be.
“He or she is concerned with a higher principle, that of doing justice in accordance with the law.”
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