Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
17 May 2011

But elites find it hard to believe the worst of our own – just as families do members of their kin. Some of this is due to the nature of sociopaths – they con even the most skeptical (I always think of the hard-nosed skeptic, Hanna Rosin, who defended the fabulist, Stephen Glass, out of loyalty and friendship and disbelief at the extent of his ethical vandalism). But some is due surely to our refusal to believe we can have long associated with people capable of such acts. Rather than question our own judgment, we rush to defend or ignore the indefensible. – Andrew Sullivan on why friends are defending IMF chief Strauss-Kahn (casting new light on why so many people kept on supporting Jacob Zuma during his corruption case)

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