How judges are selected ?

The ideal process for selecting judges is a subject that is debated worldwide.

The qualities expected of judges that that are most often talked about are accountability and independence, but these qualities are often discussed without exploring what is meant by being independent.

Two methods for the selection of judges that are commonly used are: 

  • Election:  a process based on choice by a community.
  • Appointment:  a selection process based on merit.

In Australia judges are appointed.

Some of the arguments for election and appointment are outlined below:

Election

Pros Cons
Many people believe the political views of judges are important
Who is elected may come down to whoever has the money to campaign for votes.
The public have a say in who is elected.
Popular does not always mean effective.
Democracy is observed.
The public may not have the information necessary to make the correct decision.

 

Appointment

Pros Cons
The nominating committee includes ‘experts’.
Community members are not involved in the selection process.
Those making the decisions know what is required and that the person has the necessary skills.
The appointment is influenced by the personal views of a few.
Judges are appointed for their working life.
The issues associated with long-term tenures*.

 

* If judges are appointed to the same position for the rest of their working life, what might be some of the issues related to that long-term appointment? Discuss this with your teacher.

​Fact sheet 1