Judges

The resources in this section have been developed for legally-trained judges but lay judicial officers may also find them useful.

Further to these resources you can find PJSI toolkits and training modules here.

In April 2022, PJSP held an engaging Judicial Wellbeing webinar for judicial officers from across the Pacific. The half-day session was facilitated by Robyn Bradey and included panellist members:

  • Justice David Cannings (PNG)
  • Justice Kathleen Salii (Palau)
  • Justice Tuala Warren (Samoa)

A list of issues arose during discussions that the group requested be brought back to Heads of Bench as they plan and implement wellbeing measures across the courts.

For a password to access - please email us.

Summary of issues arising from the PJSP wellbeing webinar

Robyn Bradey summarises the key issues discussed during the wellbeing webinar and provides reccomendations.

In June 2022, PJSP held the Delayed Cases or Backlogs? webinar for judicial officers across the Pacific. The webinar was hosted by Chief Justice Ingram of the Republic of Marshall Islands and facilitated by Jennifer Akers.

 Panellists included:

  • Sir Albert Palmer, Chief Justice of the Solomon Islands
  • Chief Justice Lunabek of Vanuatu and
  • Chief Justice Hastings of Kiribati

They discussed their court caseloads, related challenges, the importance of technology and the important role of court personnel.

For a password to access the webinar – please email us

This bench book is intended to be a practical, user-friendly and informative guide for Justices to guide them in their work in the High Court. It comes in two parts: 1. Quick guides for use on the bench, which include process documents, checklists and templates; and 2. The bench book, which includes more detailed explanations, references to legislation and case law. Justices are encouraged to study and understand both parts, so they have the necessary knowledge to perform their functions.

Showcases are video presentations highlighting innovative approaches taken by Pacific partners on access to justice issues.

In this video Judge Paulsen (the former Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga) talks about the practice direction implemented in 2019 by the Supreme Court of Tonga for intercountry adoptions by New Zealand-based applicants. He talks about how courts can use child safeguarding measures in the process of international adoptions within the existing legal framework. Judge Paulsen answers questions about the main issues involved, the legislative context, the drafting process, social and cultural considerations and the role of agencies working together. You may find this resource helpful to get ideas about how to approach this area of law in your own courts.

 

International adoptions - Tonga showcase1 April 2022

This showcase features Judge Paulsen (the former Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga) and discusses the practice direction implemented in 2019 by the Supreme Court of Tonga for international adoptions by New Zealand-based applicants.

Practice Direction 1 of 2019: Application for Letters of Adoption and Legal Guardianship Orders

Practice direction implemented in 2019 by the Supreme Court of Tonga for international adoptions by New Zealand-based applicants.

Faamasinoga o Sauaga o Aiga - The Family Violence Court of Samoa Session 129 June 2022

The Family Violence Court of Samoa is one in a series of PJSP showcases that shines a spotlight on local solutions to regional issues.

Through a conversation with Samoa Senior District Court Judge, Talasa Saaga and PJSP Judicial Education Advisor and previous High Court Judge of Fiji, Mere Pulea, we hear about why the court was initiated and how it was established within the legal framework of the Family Safety Act 2013. Judge Talasa Saaga explains how the specialist court is resourced, its jurisdiction and its service to the outer the islands. Given the limited counselling services available to the court, we hear about the vision of using churches and elders in the community as alternative dispute resolution centres – a topic explored more deeply in session 2.

"What I hope to share is from the perspective of the Region. Being a family of island countries facing the same challenges because of the small geographical sizes of our island nations, sparse population and our limited resources. I sincerely hope that this will start a discourse on the experiences and challenges faced by the Courts in the application of the different legislations." Judge Talasa Saaga

DURATION: 40 min

This training module covers what it is to be a judicial officer: What the judicial oath means and the 'dos and don'ts' of the role.

The module is best worked through with others, in order and over a series of sessions.  The resources have been designed to be completed in a lunch hour or short evening session. But you can also dip into any of the resources by yourself at any time. Discussion questions will help you to tease out the specific issues you might encounter and what to do about them as you go.

Some judicial oaths don't include the specific wording we have followed but many do. The module covers universal principles for judicial officers in democratic common law countries and the principles are important even if your judicial oath doesn't mention them specifically. There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country. If you have questions about any of the content, please discuss with your colleagues and head of bench.

A lot has been written about the judicial role and we encourage you to search for other resources.

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, participants will:

  • Better understand the requirements of the judicial role in terms of independence, impartiality, transparency, diligence and ethical conduct, both on the bench and in their personal lives
  • Build their ability to assess professional and personal risks and benefits of various actions, interactions and involvement in activities, both in court and in their personal lives
  • Gain more insight into the personal challenges facing judicial officers, their colleagues and their families, and how best to manage these challenges
  • Understand the concepts of bias and conflict of interest in the judicial context and be able to identify situations that might constitute actual or perceived bias or conflicts of interest
  • Make sound decisions as to whether or not it is appropriate to preside over cases where there might be an actual or perceived bias or conflict of interest, and what to do about that
  • Appreciate the diversity of the community and access to justice issues that result, and understand that treating all people the same results in inequitable outcomes
  • Have an awareness of resources available for guidance if required.

This video features experienced judicial officer, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge, discussing what's required of a judicial officer in their conduct on and off the bench. A short biography can be found here.

This video provides a discussion of universal principles for judicial officers around the world and from Sir David’s experiences.  There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country and in your own jurisdiction.  You can watch and consider it on your own at any time, but we encourage you to watch it with your colleagues and head of bench and to consider and discuss what is covered in the video and how it relates to your own experiences.  Discussion questions are included below.

 

Judicial conduct: On the bench, around the court and in your personal life

Video presentation on judicial conduct
This module discusses what judicial conduct means and how this must be maintained in and out of court.
Duration: 12min

This video features experienced judicial officer, New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton, discussing conflict of interest, judicial impartiality and judicial independence. A short biography can be found here.

This video provides a discussion of universal principles for judicial officers around the world and from Coroner Tutton’s experiences. There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country and in your own jurisdiction. You can watch and consider it on your own at any time, but we encourage you to watch it with your colleagues and head of bench and to consider and discuss what is covered in the video and how it relates to your own experiences. Discussion questions are included below.

 

Conflict of interest with Anna Tutton

Video presentation on conflict of interest
Duration: 30min

This series of four videos focuses on the judical oath and what that means for a judicial officer in practice.

The videos feature discussion about what the judicial oath means to our three experienced judicial officers: Sir David Carruthers (formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge), Mere Pulea (former Fiji High Court Judge), and New Zealand’s Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton. You can read their short biographies here.

Each video covers a different aspect or element of the judicial oath and is best watched in order. Some judicial oaths don't include the specific wording we have followed but many do. The videos cover universal principles for judicial officers in democratic common law countries and the principles are important even if your judicial oath doesn't mention them specifically. There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country. If you have questions about any of the content, please discuss with your colleagues and head of bench.

1. Service

Video session one focuses on the judicial oath, specifically what it means “to serve” as a judicial officer, including:
• Impartiality – treating people equally, neutrality
• Independence – free from outside control, influence or persuasion
• Professionalism – punctuality, diligence, and timeliness of judgments
• Accountability, transparency – providing clear reasons for decisions
• Teamwork – flexibility, courtesy, dignity and respect.

Duration: 37min

2. Without fear, favour, affection or ill-will

Video session two focuses on the phrase “without fear or favour, affection or ill will” that commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Impartiality – recognising bias, conflict of interest
• Independence – free from any outside control, influence or persuasion
• The Rule of Law – remaining free from political pressure or interference
• Accountability, transparency – providing clear reasons for decisions, based on evidence alone
• Natural justice – ensuring a fair and generally public process that enables equality of treatment

Duration: 18 min

3. Do right to all manner of people

Video session three focuses on the phrase “to right to all manner of people” that commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Equality before the law – using appropriate language to address people that are before the court, providing equal treatment no matter who the person is or where they come from
• Equity in the law – acknowledging that certain groups of people face obstacles that others do not and certain groups of people do not have equal access to opportunities or the ability to equal participation as others do.

Duration: 5 min

4. Laws and usages of the land

Video session four focuses on the phrase “laws and usages of [the land]”, or a phrase akin to that, which commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Decisions being made in accordance with the law – law as derived from statute law, case law and customary law
• Certainty (or uncertainty) of the law – knowing what the legal hierarchy is in your jurisdiction, as guided by the constitution, to deal with the potential for conflict between statute and customary law
• Knowing, or evidentially proving, customary law – obtaining evidence from community elders
• In-court versus out-of-court resolution – realising that the judicial role remains independent and free of any potential community resolution which seeks to prevent legal proceedings being commenced.

Duration: 19 min

This 3-part webinar series, each 90 minutes, spotlights Pacific courts’ experiences, plans or ideas for expanding access to justice. The series is facilitated by Dr Carolyn Graydon as PJSP’s Human Rights and Access to Justice Advisor.

Webinar 2 (Implementing Family Protection Acts) will be held on 19 August and the final webinar (Access to legal assistance) is 2 September 2022.

For a password to access - please email us.

 

Webinar 1: Expanding Practical Access to Courts

This webinar focuses on expanding geographic reach and increasing access for people in remote areas:
- court circuits and outreach efforts
- remote court proceedings using low-cost technologies
- court fee waivers
- links with legal aid and other community service providers.