Judicial Reform Index Factors

I:Quality, Education and Diversity

Factor 1. Judicial Qualification and Preparation

Judges have formal university-level legal training and have practiced before tribunals or, before taking the bench, are required (without cost to the judges) to take relevant courses concerning basic substantive and procedural areas of the law, the role of the judge in society, and cultural sensitivity.

Factor 2. Selection/Appointment Process

Judges are appointed based on objective criteria, such as passage of an exam, performance in law school, other training, experience, professionalism, and reputation in the legal community. While political elements may be involved, the overall system should foster the selection of independent, impartial judges.

Factor 3. Continuing Legal Education

Judges must undergo, on a regular basis and without cost to them, professionally prepared continuing legal education courses, the subject matters of which are generally determined by the judges themselves and which inform them of changes and developments in the law.

Factor 4. Minority and Gender Representation

Ethnic and religious minorities, as well as both genders, are represented amongst the pool of nominees and in the judiciary generally.

II:Judicial Powers

Factor 5. Judicial Review of Legislation

A judicial organ has the power to determine the ultimate constitutionality of legislation and official acts, and such decisions are enforced.

Factor 6. Judicial Oversight of Administrative Practice

The judiciary has the power to review administrative acts and to compel the government to act where a legal duty to act exists.

Factor 7. Judicial Jurisdiction over Civil Liberties

The judiciary has exclusive, ultimate jurisdiction over all cases concerning civil rights and liberties.

Factor 8. System of Appellate Review

Judicial decisions may be reversed only through the judicial appellate process.

Factor 9. Contempt/Subpoena Enforcement

Judges have adequate subpoena, contempt, and/or enforcement powers, which are utilized, and these powers are respected and supported by other branches of government.

III:Financial Resources

Factor 10. Budgetary Input

The judiciary has a meaningful opportunity to influence the amount of money allocated to it by the legislative and/or executive branches, and, once funds are allocated to the judiciary, the judiciary has control over its own budget and how such funds are expended.

Factor 11. Adequacy of Judicial Salaries

Judicial salaries are generally sufficient to attract and retain qualified judges, enabling them to support their families and live in a reasonably secure environment, without having to have recourse to other sources of income.

Factor 12. Judicial Buildings

Judicial buildings are conveniently located and easy to find, and they provide a respectable environment for the dispensation of justice with adequate infrastructure.

Factor 13. Judicial Security

Sufficient resources are allocated to protect judges from threats such as harassment, assault, and assassination.

IV.Structural Safeguards

Factor 14. Guaranteed Tenure

Senior level judges are appointed for fixed terms that provide a guaranteed tenure, which is protected until retirement age or the expiration of a defined term of substantial duration.

Factor 15. Objective Judicial Advancement Criteria

Judges are advanced through the judicial system on the basis of objective criteria such as ability, integrity, and experience.

Factor 16. Judicial Immunity for Official Actions

Judges have immunity for actions taken in their official capacity.

Factor 17. Removal and Discipline of Judges

Judges may be removed from office or otherwise punished only for specified official misconduct and through a transparent process, governed by objective criteria.

Factor 18. Case Assignment

Judges are assigned to cases by an objective method, such as by lottery, or according to their specific areas of expertise, and they may be removed only for good cause, such as a conflict of interest or an unduly heavy workload.

Factor 19. Judicial Associations

An association exists, the sole aim of which is to protect and promote the interests of the judiciary, and this organization is active.

V.Accountability and Transparency

Factor 20. Judicial Decisions and Improper Influence

Judicial decisions are based solely on the facts and law without any undue influence from senior judges (e.g., court presidents), private interests, or other branches of government.

Factor 21. Code of Ethics

A judicial code of ethics exists to address major issues such as conflicts of interest, ex parte communications, and inappropriate political activity, and judges are required to receive training concerning this code both before taking office and during their tenure.

Factor 22. Judicial Conduct Complaint Process

A meaningful process exists under which other judges, lawyers, and the public may register complaints concerning judicial conduct.

Factor 23. Public and Media Access to Proceedings

Courtroom proceedings are open to, and can accommodate, the public and the media

Factor 24. Publication of Judicial Decisions

Judicial decisions are generally a matter of public record, and significant appellate opinions are published and open to academic and public scrutiny.

Factor 25. Maintenance of Trial Records

A transcript or some other reliable record of courtroom proceedings is maintained and is available to the public.


Factor 26. Court Support Staff

Each judge has the basic human resource support necessary to do his or her job, e.g., adequate support staff to handle documentation and legal research.

Factor 27. Judicial Positions

A system exists so that new judicial positions are created as needed.

Factor 28. Case Filing and Tracking Systems

The judicial system maintains a case filing and tracking system that ensures cases are heard in a reasonably efficient manner.

Factor 29. Computers and Office Equipment

The judicial system operates with a sufficient number of computers and other equipment to enable it to handle its caseload in a reasonably efficient manner.

Factor 30. Distribution and Indexing of Current Law

A system exists whereby all judges receive current domestic laws and jurisprudence in a timely manner, and there is a nationally recognized system for identifying and organizing changes in the law.