June 9, 2016: Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Statement by New York State Bar Association President Gutekunst

New York State Bar Association President Claire P. Gutekunst issued the following statement today.

“The New York State Bar Association has consistently advocated for a highly qualified, independent and diverse judiciary. Judicial independence is essential to maintaining the rule of law and protecting individual rights.

“While it is fair to criticize judicial rulings on the merits, it is not fair to attack a judge personally, because of disagreement with the judge’s ruling. The recent attack on Federal District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel's integrity and impartiality based on his ethnicity is improper.

“No litigant can justify such criticism by asserting that the judge's adverse rulings may have been influenced by the litigant's own prior derogatory statements about that ethnic group. We must reject and speak out against an argument that would undermine our independent judicial system and the rule of law.”

The 74,000 New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs
Lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518-487-5530