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    Saturday, July 20, 2024

    Judicial intimidation must be condemned

    For 150 years, the New London County Bar Association (NLCBA) has been dedicated to facilitating the administration of justice, upholding and improving the professional and educational standards of the legal profession, encouraging cordial relations among members of the bar, and cooperating with other bar associations of Connecticut and the nation in furtherance of these goals. It is with these goals in mind that the NLCBA Board of Directors is compelled to issue this statement concerning the rise of verbal and physical intimidation against our nation’s judiciary.

    Fair-minded critique and public discourse on judicial decisions are signs of a healthy and free society. However, attempts to undermine the legitimacy of court proceedings through baseless attacks on judges’ characters, and efforts to sway judges with threatened or actual violence, are intolerable.

    The American Bar Association has reported that the number of serious threats against judges have doubled since 2019, and that there were 457 serious threats against members of the bench in 2023. These threats are not only abhorrent in and of themselves, but are particularly detestable as attempts to destroy a fundamental pillar of our great nation: A fair and independent judiciary.

    Ordered resolution of disputes and equal protection under the law are hallmarks of free and peaceful societies. These hallmarks are wholly dependent on the service of impartial judges. Neither the public at-large nor we as lawyers, can expect our jurists to decide cases without fear or favor when they are threatened with violence. The fact that our courts exceed our expectations and continue to rule disinterestedly in the face of such threats is a great testament to the dedication with which our judges serve. As lawyers, we owe our colleagues on the bench our thanks, and when they are unfairly threatened or wrongfully accused of misconduct – our voice.

    While not equivalent to direct threats of violence, false accusations of bias and corruption against judges unfairly and dangerously distort the public’s perception of our courts. Presently, such statements from politicians and the media seem ever-present. When politicians or pundits with large numbers of dedicated and fervent followers make unfounded allegations of partiality or malfeasance against our judiciary, a small and misguided minority of their supporters will inevitably make that undermine our rule of law. Our political leaders should know this.

    The NLCBA Board of Directors condemns, in the strongest of terms, threats and false statements regarding the motivations and character of judges, whether in a high profile, nationally-publicized case, or in a matter that affects none but the litigants. We encourage other bar associations and attorneys to similarly condemn such dangerous and false rhetoric.

    It is our hope that the public discourse surrounding our nation’s jurisprudence becomes less about unwarranted personal attacks on our judiciary’s civil servants, and more about the facts and law.

    Editor’s Note: This version corrects the name of the authors.

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