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Principles of Judicial Office

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Respect for the Judiciary is acquired through the pursuit of excellence in administering justice.

Preamble

A strong and independent judiciary is indispensable to the proper administration of justice in our society. Justices of the peace must be free to perform their judicial duties without fear of reprisal or influence from any person, group, institution or level of government. In turn, society has a right to expect those appointed as justices of the peace to be honourable and worthy of its trust and confidence.

The justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice recognize their duty to establish, maintain, encourage and uphold high standards of personal conduct and professionalism so as to preserve the independence and integrity of their judicial office and to preserve the faith and trust that society places in the men and women who have agreed to accept the responsibilities of judicial office.

The following principles of judicial office are established by the justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice and set out standards of excellence and integrity to which all justices of the peace subscribe. These principles are not exhaustive.  They are designed to be advisory in nature and are not directly related to any specific disciplinary process.  Intended to assist justices of the peace in addressing ethical and professional dilemmas, they may also serve in assisting the public to understand the reasonable expectations which the public may have of justices of the peace in the performance of judicial duties and in the conduct of their personal lives.

1.  The Justices of the Peace in Court

1.1 Justices of the peace must be impartial and objective in the discharge of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace should not be influenced by partisan interests, public pressure or fear of criticism.

Justices of the peace should maintain their objectivity and shall not, by words or conduct, manifest favour, bias or prejudice towards any party or interest.

1.2 Justices of the peace have a duty to follow the law.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace have a duty to apply the relevant law to the facts and circumstances of the cases before the court and to render justice within the framework of the law.

1.3 Justices of the peace will endeavour to maintain order and decorum in court.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace must strive to be patient, dignified and courteous in performing the duties of judicial office and shall carry out their role with integrity, appropriate firmness and honour.

2. The Justices of the Peace and the Court

2.1 Justices of the peace should approach their judicial duties in a spirit of collegiality, cooperation and mutual assistance.

2.2 Justices of the peace should conduct court business with due diligence and dispose of all matters before them promptly and efficiently having regard, at all times, to the interests of justice and the rights of the parties before the court.

2.3 Reasons for judgment should be delivered in a timely manner.

2.4 Justices of the peace have a duty to maintain their professional competence in the law.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace should attend and participate in continuing legal and general education programs.

2.5 The primary responsibility of justices of the peace is the discharge of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:
Subject to applicable legislation, justices of the peace may participate in law related activities such as teaching, participating in educational conferences, writing and working on committees for the advancement of judicial interests and concerns, provided such activities to do not interfere with their primary duty to the court.

3. The Justice of the Peace in the Community

3.1 Justices of the peace should maintain their personal conduct at a level which will ensure the public’s trust and confidence.

3.2 Justices of the peace must avoid any conflict of interest, or the appearance of any conflict of interest, in the performance of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace must not participate in any partisan political activity.

Justices of the peace must not contribute financially to any political party.

3.3 Justices of the peace must not abuse the power of their judicial office or use it inappropriately.

3.4 Justices of the peace are encouraged to be involved in community activities provided such involvement is not incompatible with their judicial office.

Commentaries:
Justices of the peace should not lend the prestige of their office to fund-raising activities.