I consider myself to be a rule of law judge, meaning my role as a judge is to determine what the law is, not what it should be. Our founding fathers recognized that this is one of the most important obligations of the judicial branch. The founders sought to avoid judicial legislation because it generally goes unchecked and removes the people from the democratic process.
Determining what the law is can only be accomplished when a judge eliminates personal, social, and political views from their judicial decision-making. This is best accomplished when a judge interprets the law as it is written, not interpreted based on their personal beliefs.
Imperative to our system of justice is federalism or state rights. The success of our government is in large part attributed to the ability of state and federal courts to not only coexist, but to complement each other. State courts must respect the supremacy of federal law. Nonetheless, federal courts must guard against undue intrusion into state law by recognizing and respecting the right of the individual states to judge and enforce its own laws in its own courts.
Principles and procedural safeguards that promote confidence in the judicial system should also guide all judges. Litigation by its nature ends in disappointment for at least one litigant. The duty of the court is to administer the law and to ensure both sides of litigation are treated equally. Social order is maintained because of the public’s faith and confidence in the judicial process.
A judge’s robe is not an end, but a means to maintain social order. Confidence in the judicial system is enhanced whenever citizens believe that regardless of outcome, he or she has been provided a full, fair and expeditious opportunity to be heard by an impartial judge of fact and law. A judge should strive to treat each individual and lawyer with dignity and respect and remain ever mindful that the civility of society must be demonstrated in the courts.
– Brian K. Zahra