The “Public Opinion“ of Judges – An Area of Conflict between the Freedom of Expression and Judicial Independence
The number of disciplinary proceedings initiated against judicial dignitaries as a result of expressions of opinion in public is increasing. Recently, for instance, there has been an augmentation in the number of proceedings initiated primarily because of posts by judges in social media, for example on Facebook. Will judges in the future no longer be allowed to speak out publicly on issues that concern them, because otherwise they run the risk of being prosecuted in a lawsuit? Or are there even regional differences in the exercise of the Freedom of Expression, so that a judge in Eastern Europe is allowed to say more than a judge in Latin America? The difficulty for judges in this regard is always to perform the balancing act between their exercise of freedom of expression, preserving the dignity of the judicial office and ensuring the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, while keeping all interests in line.