back to Screen-Friendly page


Judicial Independence Must Be Respected
Op-Ed from BASF President James Donato

September 9, 2008 -- San Francisco
-- When criticisms of judges fly in the press and other venues, it is critical for all of us to step back from the fray and reflect on the vital importance of an independent judiciary. We have that opportunity now. Political controversy over the San Francisco's "sanctuary" ordinance has led to criticisms of our judicial officers at the Youth Guidance Center and the decisions they have issued in the cases before them. Just a few weeks ago, the judicial officers at YGC were attacked for a decision regarding the fate of a 14-year old Honduran boy allegedly implicated in a drug violation.

The Bar Association of San Francisco reminds all San Franciscans that the independence of the judiciary and the impartial rule of law are the crown jewels of our republic. To protect the liberty and freedom that are the hallmarks of our nation, our judges are charged with deciding cases based on the facts and the law before them. It is their duty to act without regard to public opinion, political pressure or their own personal beliefs. It is our duty as residents of San Francisco to insist that judicial independence and the rule of law be respected and honored as the bulwarks of our democracy.

Our judges cannot answer critics or comment on the matters before them. As Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. recently observed, our judges' commitment to the rule of law and the preservation of our rights "often requires the lonely courage of a patriot." We ask our judges to make difficult decisions based on the facts before them and an unwavering commitment to the impartial rule of law. All of us have a vital stake in ensuring that our judges discharge these crucial duties free from political attacks and pressures.

James Donato
2008 President, The Bar Association of San Francisco

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104