The judiciary

THE JUDICIARY Government has created legal machinery that operates within the concept of ” justice under law”. This legal instrumentality is a system of courts, or the judiciary, which applies the law for the settlement of disputes. Justice under the Law: Those who are authorized to enforce the law must treat people fairly and equally by showing respect for the rule of the law. Only by applying the law equally to all — rich or poor, high or low — can it be said that those in power gain legitimacy and acceptance from those people over whom they rule. The Judiciary Defined: Judiciary is the branch of government which interprets the laws of the state and upon which devolves the application of the law for the settlement of conflicts arising from the relations between persons and between government and the persons. In a democratic society, the judiciary is the bulwark of individual liberties and freedoms and the guardian of the Constitution. The Concept of Judicial Independence: This means that the judges are independent in rendering impartial decisions, completely free from executive and legislative control, pressure and influence from any person, individuals or groups. The concept of judicial independence demands that an independent judiciary must be the “ cornerstone of democracy” and the bulwark of freedom. The independence of the judiciary is protected by the Constitution of the state. The Judiciary as Enforcer of the Bill of Rights: The Constitution provides all the protection the judiciary needs to assert its independence from the executive, legislature, other government institutions, persons and private entities. The judiciary should enforce the Bill of Rights in deciding against acts of the executive or the legislature, or of any person or group that deny the citizens the blessings of liberty and justice. Organization of the Judiciary: The organization of the judiciary is important in the light of such goal of creating a judicial structure that will be convenient to litigants and that will attain expertise and certainty in the application of the law on certain particular cases brought before the judicial tribunal. Division of Courts: 1. Courts at the base of the Judicial Structure — inferior courts whose function is to try and render judgment on cases pertaining to petty crimes and petty civil disputes. 2. Courts of General Jurisdiction — higher level of courts whose function is to try persons accused of high crimes or felonies and hear important civil cases. 3. Intermediate Appellate Courts — which are between the trial courts/courts of general jurisdiction and the Supreme Court. An Appellate Court is one to which a case is decided by the trial court may be brought for an appeal. 4. Supreme Court — whose decision is final on all cases brought before it by appeal or review from the lower courts. The Functions of the Judiciary: The general function of the judiciary is to apply the law with as much certainty and uniformity to certain specified cases. 1. Settlement of Disputes — disputes between persons and decide which of the two parties has the right under the law. 2. Prevention of Wrongful Acts — prevents the commission of wrongful acts by equity. 3. Issuance of Declaratory Judgments — enables the court to enter a final judgment between litigants in an actual controversy in which the judges defines their respective rights under a statutes, will, contract, or other document, but it does not grant “ consequential or coercive relief”. 4. The Exercise of Judicial Review — the power of the judiciary particularly of the Supreme Court to review an act of the legislature, or that of the executive and compare it with the Constitution 5. Performance of Quasi-Judicial Functions — function is to naturalize aliens, granting license, the appointments of guardians to minor orphans, and administrators to property and receivers in bankruptcy. Qualifications and Tenure of Office: Judges must be impartial and honest, must be given independence and security of tenure, and are expected to be competent or learned in the law. Two Basic Methods of Selection: 1. Appointment — the president shall appoint a member of the Supreme Court or judge of the lower court from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for each vacancy. 2. Election — judges are elected by the two houses of the federal legislature and are allowed to seek re-election which to good judges may turn out to be a permanent tenure Qualifications: Most important requirements for making the judiciary strongly independent, professional and competent to carry out its vital function is the qualification of judges. * Life background * Experience * Education * Training Tenure of Office: Security of tenure is very essential to maintaining the independence of the judicial department. As a safeguard to the independence of the courts, security of tenure of judges is guaranteed by the Constitution of the state by providing certain measures against removal of judges without due cause. The Role of an Impartial Judge: He is solely responsible in directing and controlling the trial of the case. He must be convinced that in the presentation of evidence all facts pertinent to the case are discovered. If lacking in essential facts, the judge has the right to question witnesses.