An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
The context of the film is South Africa’s transformation from apartheid to a human rights-based constitutional democracy. Courting Justice features seven of South Africa’s women judges who, as judges, are charged with advancing that transformation.
They tell “their stories,” speaking to us in their court rooms, chambers, homes and the communities in which they lived during apartheid.
In telling their stories they convey their deep commitment to creating a human rights jurisprudence and bring attention to the importance of the judiciary’s engagement in realizing the constitution’s promises. They also provide insight into the judiciary’s own transformation — a necessary condition for the judiciary’s legitimacy and effectiveness.
This web site will provide information and commentary about the
– Judicial system during apartheid and under the New Democracy
– Biographies of the seven featured judges
– Differences women have made on the bench
– Post-apartheid constitutional and human rights developments
Highlights of Testimonials, Festivals and Screenings
Linda Greenhouse,Yale Law School and former New York Times Supreme Court reporter “Courting Justice” documents in a most gripping way the role that women in the judiciary are playing in building the new South Africa. I found these women’s stories touching and inspiring.
Charles J, Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Founding and Executive Director, The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice The film stands as a vivid testament to the central role of diversity in a healthy democracy. By documenting as it does the role of women in the forefront of the administration of justice at every level of the South African society, it is also a testament to South Africa’s determination to realize the promise of its remarkable constitution. All of this is conveyed in the most compelling terms. This film will be… particularly useful in generating discussion of the complex relationship between race and gender in a judicial context as well a social movement context.
Carolyn Turner, Senior TV Producer, Voice of America This is an inspirational film, especially for young people with aspirations. It is a revelation to go behind the scenes for intimate glimpses of women judges to see how meticulous they are in weighing the social and individual consequences of their judgments and interpretations of the law. The score by Philip Miller transports you to the time and place and you can feel the transformation this culture has witnessed. The spontaneous singing choir in the Court at the Political Prisoners Commemoration captures that unmistakable South African sound that reflects the pure joy of freedom. The score should be made available as a separate CD.
Roberta I. Shaffer, the Law Librarian of Congress (Library of Congress) “Courting Justice” tells many stories–the struggle of a nation to build a credible judiciary; the journey of a small group of women judges who agree to serve as role models in the courtroom, classroom and at home for a new generation; and the universal lesson that passion and perseverance can overcome almost all challenges. Through the camera’s eye and with a compelling musical score, we are captivated as women from a wide variety of starting points don judicial robes and assume a shared “bench” to transform a nation, in this case South Africa, through the rule of law.
HBO COMPETITION FINALIST in Upcoming Festival – August 2010:
Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Courting Justice has been shown at The United Nations, Embassies and Consulates, U.S. Department of State, South Africa Parliament, Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Law and Society Association.
Courting Justice can be purchased or rented by contacting Women Make Movies – (US & Canada)
email: Abby Peck firstname.lastname@example.org
US telephone 1 212 925 0606 ext 360
outside US, contact Fireworx Media –
email: Dan Jawtiz email@example.com
SA telephone +27 11 403 4949, Mobile +27 82 330 8736