Unless specified otherwise, a judge is commonly understood to be an elected or appointed official authorized to conduct a court proceeding in order to resolve legal controversies. Depending upon the jurisdiction, responsibilities, and authority, a judge may be a circuit judge, country judge, an appeals judge, or a judge of the district court. In Jewish history, a judge refers to any ruler or war leader of the Israelites after Joshua and before the time of the Kings, as in the book of Judges. Any person entrusted to assess a case on a meritorious basis or to declare the winners between some contestants is also termed as a judge. In certain cases, specific terms like ‘referee’ or ‘umpire’ are used. Belief in the Day of Judgment is quintessential for many religions.
1. Lord Denning
Alfred Thompson Denning, commonly known as Lord Denning, was born in Whit Church, Hampshire on January 23, 1899 and died at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, on March 5, 1999 at the age of 100 years. He graduated in law and mathematics from Oxford University. After starting his legal career, he became the King’s Counsel in 1938. He became Lord of Appeal in 1957 and Master of the Rolls in 1962. He was an equally honored judge in the bar and the public. Lord Chief Justice Lord Bingham said about Lord Denning that he was ‘The best-known and best-loved judge in our history.’ Due to his reputation as a judge, many law-related matters were named after him. They include: the Lord Denning scholarship of Lincoln’s Inn, the Denning Law Journal of the University of Buckingham, and the Library of Magdalen College, Oxford is also known as the Denning Law Library.
2. Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor was born to Harry Alfred Day and Ada Mae, in El Paso, Texas, U.S. on March 26, 1930. By virtue of her capabilities and determination, she raised herself to the position of United States Supreme Court Justice. She was appointed by Ronald Reagan as an associate justice in 1981 and continued until her retirement in 2006. She was the first woman to be in this position. She had been a deciding vote in many cases including the famous case Bush vs. Gore, 531 U.S.98, 2000. On December 12, 2000, O’Connor along with 4 other justices ruled in this case to stop the ongoing Florida election recount thereby effectively ending Gore’s hope to become President.
3. Cardinal Francesco Barberini
Francesco Barberini was born to Carlo Barberini and Costanza Magalotti in Florence on September 23, 1597 and died in Rome on December 10, 1679 at the age of 82 years. He studied at the Pisa University graduating in 1623 in canon and civil law. At the university, he was assisted by the family friend, Galileo Galilei. Soon after graduation, his uncle, Pope Urban VIII, made him a cardinal, state secretary, and legate to Avignon. He was also made the Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition and held this position from 1633 until his death. He is famous for being one of the three judges who did not sign Galileo’s imprisonment and the imposition of the ban on his controversial work the Dialogue. He had not only influenced a few other members to take a lenient view of Galileo’s case but had also persuaded Firenzuola, the Commissary General, to visit Galileo and try to find out the possibility of a compromising solution. Galileo agreed, but the majority of the ten cardinals rejected the suggested solution.
4. Carrington Tanner Marshall
Carrington Tanner Marshall was born in Ohio, U.S. on June 17, 1869. He attended a one-room school and had to walk seven miles daily for the purpose of an education. Having graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1892, he started practice in Zanesville. He served as Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court for 12 years. In the famous trial, The United States of America vs. Josef Altstotter, et.al, he was the presiding judge of the judge’s trial. It was one of the twelve trials held in Nuremberg in 1947. He had authored many books. Marshall died in Bexley, Ohio on June 30, 1958.
5. Thomas Danforth
Thomas Danforth was born to Nicholas Danforth and Elizabeth Symmes in Framingham, Suffolk, England on November 20, 1623. He migrated to New England with his family in 1634. He was a magistrate, politician, and a landowner in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He is best known for his role as a judge in some of the Salem witch trials conducted between 1692 and 1693. Historical records show that he criticized the conduct of the trials. Danforth has been mentioned in many literary works including Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
6. Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was born to William Marshall and Norma in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. on July 2, 1908. His father was a porter and mother a teacher. He was the grandson of a slave whose father was also a slave. He became famous after his victory in the trial Brown vs. Board of Education. President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 where he served until October, 1991. He was the first African-American justice.
7. William Joseph Brennan, Jr.
William Joseph Brennan, Jr. was born to William and Agnes in Newark, New Jersey, April 25, 1906 and died in Washington D.C., USA on July 24, 1997 at the age of 91 years. He was educated in the public schools in Newark, New Jersey Barringer High School and Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania. The governor of New Jersey, Alfred E. Driscoll, appointed him to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brennen opposed the Constitutionality of the Death Penalty by the use of the electric chair stating that electrocution was ‘Nothing less than the contemporary technological equivalent of burning people at the stake.’
8. Bao Zheng
Bao Zheng was born in Hefel, China on April 11, 999 and died in Kaifeng, China on May 20, 1062. He was popularly known as Bao Gong, meaning Lord Bao. He was the most respected magistrate in Bian during the reign of Emperor Renzong of the Northern Song Dynasty in ancient China. From 1037 until his death in 1062, he remained attached with the Imperial Court and held high offices. He was known for his clean character and firm personality. Bao Zheng has been an icon of justice in greater China. In ancient China, an inkstone, ink brush, inkstick, and Xuan paper were considered four treasures of study. To set an example of honesty, he prevented the extravagant and unauthorized use of inkstones.
9. Juan Salvador GuzmÃƒ¡n Tapia
Juan Salvador Guzman Tapia was born to a Chilean diplomatic family in San Salvador, El Salvador on April 22, 1939. He studied law at the University of Chile and continued his post-graduate studies in Paris. He started his judicial career as a member of the Santiago Appeals Court and retired in 2005. He is best known for being the first judge to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Haverford College in Pennsylvania, U.S. awarded him the honorary degree for his courageous stance against dictatorship and for the defense of human rights in the most unfavorable circumstances. In appreciation for his efforts in bringing Pinochet to justice, a documentary, titled The Judge and the General was produced by the West Wind Productions.
10. King Archon
‘Archon’ is a Greek word, meaning ‘a ruler.’ In Athens, the citizens elected the jurors known as Dikasts.The famous trial of Socrates was conducted by these Dikasts under the supervision of the King Archon. Socrates was summoned by the poet Meletus to appear before the legal magistrate or King Archon to defend the charges leveled against him. Socrates was accused of impiety as shown by his disrespect for the deities and for misleading the Athenian youth. Having heard Socrates, the Dikasts voted against him, and he was made to drink a cup of hemlock extract in conformance with the judgment given by King Archon.
To err is human, and judges are human beings; therefore, they too are susceptible to erring. The best a judge can do is to achieve conformance to the law. In the words of Ceasare Beccaria as appears in his work On Crimes and Punishments ‘For every crime that comes before him, a judge is required to complete a perfect syllogism in which the major premise must be the general law; the minor, the action that conforms or does not conform to the law; and the conclusion, acquittal or punishment.’