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
21 August 2012

Government press conferences, mining executives, and newspaper articles have now spent several days wringing hands over the “senseless” and “regrettable” and “preventable” loss of life, counseling that we should await the cataloguing of facts before rushing to judgment. Witness the new politics of grief. In the aftermath of state violence, it has become routine for those in power to greet such events with somber invocation of “tragedy” and sympathy for the families of the dead—rather than, of course, solidarity with the assassinated. Counterfeit mourning serves to deflect the demands for justice and accountability, as if a miners strike and police repression were natural disasters or vengeful acts of some incomprehensible god. It attempts to rob these deaths of any political meaning. – Jon Soske on “Marikana and the New Politics of Grief

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