Judicial Reforms

Topics: Law, Separation of powers, Constitution Pages: 9 (3295 words) Published: March 14, 2013
“Equal justice under the law is not merely a caption on the façade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring idea of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system existed. It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.”

For the past few years corruption has been the headline topic in Zambia. There has been a major cry from the general public that the country is full of corruption especially those in power. Among the three major bodies of the government is the judiciary which has been targeted as very corrupt. Serious issues have been raised by the media and general public and that reform in the judiciary are necessary if at all the country is to be revived to previous times.

Judicial reforms are the complete or partial political reform of a country or a country’s judiciary. These reforms are often done as a part of wider reforms of the country’s political system. Judicial reform usually aims to improve such things as law courts, advocacy (bar), executor process, inquest and record keeping. Valery Dmitrievich Zorkin (2004) in his article “Twelve Theses and legal reforms in Russia” said “there was collaboration between judicial reforms and legal reforms. Legal reforms not only include judicial reforms but also aspects of the structural system and content of legislation, legal education, legal awareness by the public population and the cooperate consciousness of the whole legal system. Legal reforms can be the pioneer of all other reforms including reforms of the economy. Legal reforms should be an integral part of any ongoing reform process. Legal reform is a tool for implementing necessary reforms to balance competing interests, create a dynamic and sustainable economy and build a sustainable civil society. For example in modern Russia aspects and direction of development of judicial reforms were formulated in their constitution enacted by the Russian parliament on 24th October 1991 (Russian judicial reform concept, 1991). This document still remains legally valid and applicable to date. If one carefully studies the specifics of historical development in Russia he or she may assert that without undertaking a large scale of legal reforms it would be extremely difficult to succeed concurrently with judicial reforms. Another example of judicial reforms bringing development to a country is those of Alexander II. His judicial reforms are generally considered one of the most successful and the most consistent. During the reforms, new court systems and a completely new order of legal proceedings were established. The main results were introduction of a unified court system instead of the normal Estate-of-the-realm courts and fundamental changes in criminal trial. The judicial reforms started on 20th November 1864 when the Tsar signed the decree which enforced four regulations; the establishment of judicial settlements, the regulation of civil proceedings, the regulation of criminal proceedings and the regulation of punishment implored by justices of the peace. Areas of the judicial reforms often include; codification of law instead of common law, moving from an inquisitorial system to an adversarial system establishing stronger judicial independence with judicial councils or change to appointment procedure establishing mandatory retirement age for judges or enhancing independence of prosecution. Professor Kenneth Mwenda says in his article in the Zambia daily mail newspaper (July 13 2012) that “judicial reforms must start with reforming lawyers because judges in the first place are actually lawyers. It is from the domain of legal practitioners that we often get judges. The misconduct of an individual judge cannot necessarily or always be attributed to other judges or to the entire legal profession. It is also a truism that this misconduct starts from the way that some lawyers are...
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