What is honor? Personal integrity? Allegiance to moral principles?
We are taught to call Judges, ” Your Honor”
I am an Eagle Scout. I was raised with the most traditional of values. I was raised to respect judges. As a young lawyer, I always respected judges. I would answer docket call and proclaim
” Mr. Johnson is present with counsel,
YOUR HONOR.” I accorded this title to all judges, without question.
That was a long time ago. In thirty years I have seen a lot.
I have seen too many judges become near instant bullies.
I have seen too many judges abuse the accused.
I have seen too many judges let their staff abuse the accused.
I have seen too many judges ignore the law.
I have seen too many judges illegally revoke bonds.
I have seen too many judges perpetuate the “Plea Mill”.
I have seen too many judges award lousy lawyers for pleading people guilty without the slightest investigation of the law or the facts.
I have seen too many judges choose what was politically expedient over what was morally right.
I have seen too many judges impose “rocket dockets”, prioritizing speed over justice.
I have seen too many judges assist the prosecutors in every way possible.
I have seen too many judges who have forgotten the basic principles of Liberty and justice for all.
Not all judges are bad. There are some very good, even outstanding judges. I call these judges “Your Honor” because I respect them. As They conduct themselves with personal integrity and an allegiance to moral principles, they should be called ” Your Honor” .
But, I no longer accord the title, “Your Honor” to all judges. I decline to call many judges. “Your Honor”. As these judges seem to have little personal integrity and little or no allegiance to any moral principles, I can hardly call them ” Your Honor” and mean it. Many judges don’t deserve the respect carried with the title “Your Honor”.
Now, quite often when I call a judge “Your Honor”, it’s no more than a two word pep talk. Maybe if I call them “Your Honor”, they will change their conduct and begin to act with honor.
Unfortunately, the years have shown that for many judges, It’s a big maybe.