Why Judges Are Always Calm & Polite During Cases

  • Justice Jessie Lessit reading the verdict in lawyer Willie Kimani murder case at the Milimani High Court on Friday July 22, 2022
    Justice Jessie Lessit reading the verdict in lawyer Willie Kimani's murder case at the Milimani High Court on Friday, July 22, 2022.
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • Judges are known to maintain a calm demeanour while handling cases, whether criminal constitutional, land, environmental, labour and employment, children or divorce suits. 

    Justice Jessie Lessit 's calm demeanour, while ruling on the murder trial of lawyer Willie Kimani, was a subject of interest among Kenyans who sought to know why she was calm and composed.

    Such questions also arose during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI ruling) at the Supreme Court where Chief Justice Martha Koome and her colleagues spent hours reading through hundreds of documents. 

    Law documents published on Journal Storage (JSTOR) a digital library of academic journals serving over 10,000 libraries globally indicate that the legal culture demands that a judge ought to put aside their emotional reaction to remain free and fair. 

    Supreme Court judges, from left: Justices Isaac Lenaola, Smokin Wanjala, Philomena Mwilu (DCJ), Martha Koome (CJ), Ibrahim Mohammed, Njoki Ndungu and William Ouko outside the apex court premises on Thursday, March 31, 2022
    Supreme Court judges, from left: Justices Isaac Lenaola, Smokin Wanjala, Philomena Mwilu (DCJ), Martha Koome (CJ), Ibrahim Mohammed, Njoki Ndungu and William Ouko outside the apex court premises.
    Judiciary

    Multiple studies state that the judicial demeanour demonstrated must meet the normative confines of the judicial role within the practical limitations.

    Judges and lawyers are thus taught how to remain calm, especially when dealing with a subject of significant time stress.

    In Kenya, the judicial process is required by law to be friendly, and people-focused, because it does not arbitrarily exclude anyone, so long as there is due compliance with rules.

    This law is enshrined in Chapter 10 (Article 160) of the Promulgated 2010 Constitution which speaks on the independence of the Judiciary. 

    Judges are required to be independent as the exercise of judicial authority "shall not be subjected to the control or direction of any person or authority."

    Notably, this was one of the main reasons for the formation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) responsible for the conduct of judges and magistrates. 

    Not everyone will agree with the decisions that judges must make. Former Chief Justice, David Maraga, made it clear that a ruling would always elicit mixed reactions. 

    “I want to urge you... do not let Kenyans down. If you waver and this country descends into chaos, God will never forgive you... stand firm, and do the right thing. God and the people of Kenya will defend you,” he told judges and magistrates when exiting office in January 2021. 

    Nevertheless, judges are restricted from reacting to criticisms, and at some point, they are not permitted to do so when they are involved in a matter that is pending or imminent in any court.

    According to findings published by the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission on April 25, 2022, the ability to judge is an absolute requirement. 

    Advocates pictured at the Supreme Court Building
    Advocates pictured at the Supreme Court Building
    File

    The American commission noted that a judge not only sets the tone in the courtroom, but also owes much of the stature to acts of courtesy, civility, and consideration.

    Studies show that due to the power that judges wield in cases, a judge must at all times take into consideration how they are viewed by their opponents before commenting.  

    Judges in Kenya are also barred from accepting any gifts, courtesy or consideration that exceeds logical social conventions and, in no event, where it endangers their appearance of impartiality. 

    They are required to be aware that the dignity of the jurisdictional function demands appropriate behaviour. 

    criminal murder