Some judges have a comprehensive grasp of the law. They deal efficiently with trial after trial and deliver perfectly reasoned judgments founded on precedent. Then there are the sluggards, the ones who reserve judgments for months on end, sleep during trials, make bombastic or intimidating remarks from the bench, try to be funny, try to pressure parties to settle because they are too lazy to write a judgment and who, when they actually give judgment, often get it wrong because they ignore, pervert, or are unaware of the law. These judges ruin the individual litigants who come before them and destroy the general prosperity with the legal uncertainty they create.

To ensure only good judges are appointed to the bench, constitutional stipulations should require judicial candidates to:

  1. have worked as a trial lawyer for at least ten years;
  2. be over forty and under seventy years of age;
  3. have a comprehensive understanding of the general law; (As determined by standardized open-book examination blindly marked by appellate judges.)
  4. have detailed knowledge of the specialized area of law they will practice in;
  5. have a comprehensive understanding of the rules of the court they are nominated for;
  6. be paid extremely well (if salaries are insufficient the appropriate talent cannot be tempted away from the bar).

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove