When Justice Fails: Threats to the Independence of the Judiciary (JS 644)
Monday, Dec 9, 2019
toThursday, Dec 12, 2019
How does an independent judiciary contribute to a just society? What is necessary for the judiciary to be truly independent? Join us in Montgomery, Alabama as we attempt to answer these questions as we scrutinize historical and current events to see where judges have struggled with powerful personal, ethical, and political pressures.
After attending this course, participants will be able to:
- Define how legal and judicial systems are influenced by a government’s political philosophy;
- Analyze the forces that negatively influence judicial independence;
- Describe potential areas of tension between the canons of ethics and the application of the rule of law; and
- Identify the elements of an independent judiciary.
Montgomery is a city rich in history. Once the capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery grew to become the center of the Civil Rights Movement. During the week we will visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the nation’s first memorial dedicated to enslaved black people. Scheduled to speak is Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, widely acclaimed public interest lawyer, and best-selling author of Just Mercy. Participants will have opportunities to also visit the Civil Rights Memorial, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott, igniting the civil rights movement.
The faculty and participants will review the elements of an independent judiciary, study how this concept evolved in America, explore the status of judicial independence worldwide, and discuss current U.S. threats to the independence of judges.
“I feel this class expanded my worldview and perspective. I am going to suggest the other judges in our court attend in the future.”
Participant in the 2017 Course
An independent judiciary is constantly under criticism by politicians, segments of the public, and the media. Judges can be subjected to conflicts between the law and their consciences. This course provides the intellectual tools to recognize potential threats and emphasizes the importance of maintaining an independent judiciary.