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
14 January 2009

Where to now for Mr Zuma, legally speaking?

Here is my take, published on News24, trying to answer this question. Money qoute:

If Mr Zuma therefore has a strong case to answer (as he clearly has – even Bulelani Ngcuka said so when he declined to prosecute Mr Zuma), it would be irrelevant if that case was only brought to court for political reasons. Mr Zuma’s best bet now is to argue that the case has dragged on so long and the reporting in the media has so tainted the minds of every judge in South Africa that it would be impossible for any judge to hear such a case with an open mind and afford Mr Zuma a fair trial.

That is an extremely high hurdle to overcome and few judges would grant such an application. But Mr Zuma does have another ace up his sleeve. If Parliament confirms the firing of the NDPP, Mr Vusi Pikoli, and if President Motlanthe then appoints, shall we say, a more disciplined member of the ANC as head of the NPA, the “political solution” to his legal troubles might yet be found.

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