The qualities of a good judge are the qualities of a good man. There are additional demands on a judge, to be sure—knowledge of the law, a willingness to suspend judgment until all the evidence is in. But at last it must be the depth and texture of his humanity that qualify and define the judge.
Those who come before a judge do not really know before whom they stand. The person who presides over the courtroom, cloaked in the solemn black robes of his or her office, is in that moment less an individual than a symbol of democratic values and an instrument of state power. In recognition of that power and authority, all rise as the judge enters the courtroom and takes the seat, elevated above everyone else in the room, from which justice will be dispensed. It is the hope of all, and the conviction of most, that this individual will do his or her job well, dispensing what is perhaps our most precious social good—justice. What no one knows, what no one is even permitted to ask, is the character of the person wearing that robe and the ways in which that individual's personal qualities will affect the performance of his or her duties.
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