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Public Administrative Law in the US Essay

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Updated: Apr 10th, 2022

Introduction

Procedural fairness entails an extensive process utilized in resolving conflicts in the community and facilitating equitable allocation of resources. In the United States, the concept is synonymous with due process while Canadians understand it in terms of fundamental justice. Australia uses the term procedural fairness in referring to the process of reconciling the warring parties in the places of work, in the community, and in institutions of learning. Procedural fairness calls on the courts to make decisions transparently whereby the views and concerns of each party are taken into consideration. The principles of administrative law are critical in sustaining democratic practice. Independence and impartiality is one of the principles suggesting officers in charge of screening and hearing issues in courts should make decisions without interference from other governmental authorities. Independence of the courts incorporates factors such as security of term, financial safety, and institutional freedom. In a democratic society, judges should be free to make decisions without favour since this would promote equality. The judiciary is an important arm of government that should always facilitate individual fulfilment through effective interpretation of laws.

Discretion

Discretion means different things, but in legal terms, it means the ability of the judge, court official, or a private party with legal powers to make decisions on critical issues based on his or her beliefs, knowledge, skills, experience, and education. However, decisions generated must conform to the legal guidelines to prevent conflicts. In the courtroom, the judge sets fines and penalties, as well as issuing continuance of trial, which signifies the discretional ability. Similarly, the executor or the trustee of individual estates has executive powers to facilitate division of assets and resources among various beneficiaries using the most desirable method. District Attorney may choose to reduce the charges against a criminal to misdemeanour, which attracts a jail term of one-year minimum. Additionally, a judge might reduce charges related to murder to manslaughter upon consideration of certain facts. A governor and the president might opt to pardon the criminal after receiving an advice from their counsel. Courts assess the discretionary decisions in many ways, which means a number of factors influence decisions, one of them being the personality of the jury. For instance, an authoritative judge who is narrow-minded, strict, and conservative is likely to find a suspect guilty. Similarly, a jury with a racist attitude might end up concluding that a black person in a white dominated neighbourhood is guilty even before conducting a thorough investigation. Judges make decisions based on their experience and the available facts, but this is not enough to make rulings on complex issues, especially the ones touching on morality. A judge has to differentiate between morals and the law, something that has always elicited a heated debate given the fact some issues might be legally permissible, but morally unacceptable. For instance, the law in many parts of the world allow prostitution, abortion, and induced death, but these are some of the hotly contested moral issues in the modern society. Similarly, the law has always opposed certain forms of crimes considered morally permissible, such as stealing to feed the poor, killing with claims of self-defence, and trespassing. In this regard, it is observed that the belief system is critical in making decisions in courts.

Credibility

In the legal profession, credibility means the quality, potential, and the power to elicit belief. It might be used to refer to someone’s repute for honesty. The court allows the questioning of the witness to establish the validity of the information he or she is giving. Credibility means something of value that can be believed or has the potential to be believed. Whenever a witness is giving evidence, credibility of the testimony is important and competence is given priority. Unfortunately, reliability of the facts is not something that can be established using a specific method or technique, but instead the judge has discretion to determine whether any source of information is valid. The court protects witnesses against subjection to credibility from the prosecution since only judges have the power to do so. A witness is said to be credible by considering his or her competence when giving the evidence. The witness must be aware of the thing he or she is testifying against before declaring him or her credible. One of the things to consider before declaring the witness or piece of information credible is whether the person was present when the transaction was taking place. He or she should have paid close attention to the event, as this will help in giving a detailed report of what happened. In some cases, witnesses fail to give sufficient information because they were not present or they never paid attention as the event was taking place. An eyewitness who is detached from the case is likely to be credible because he or she lacks personal interest. In particular, a relative is not considered a credible witness because he or she might be carried away by emotions to an extent of giving one-sided information that favours the family member. Information based on truth is important in making a decision regarding an issue that threatens unity.

Bias

Bias means making a decision based on personal opinion, something that leaves the mind completely open to certainty. Bias differs from closely related terms, such as prejudice, since it has a certain power that influences the judgment. In any ruling, a jury is not allowed to take part in a case in which he or she is biased because this will definitely interfere with the major administrative principle related to impartiality. A public authority, such as the judiciary, is expected to come up with decisions that will certify the interests of the citizens, their expectations, and feelings. The legal system loses public confidence once the principle of impartiality is not observed resulting in chaos. Justice is rooted in confidence and it might be lost when the populace makes a conclusion that the judges are biased. Judges are likely to be biased without their knowledge because various types exist, including actual and imputed bias. In a scenario where the judge favours one party in a tightly contested case, an actual bias is said to have occurred. Unfortunately, the claimant might not prove this form of bias because of its complexity. Imputed bias takes place in case the jury is the party to the case or has specific interests. Once it is established that the judge was a party to the case, automatic disqualification is a possibility. An additional form of bias is apparent, which result from the jury’s incompetence or misconduct whereby his or her actions are likely to benefit one party. Identifying bias is not an easy task, especially the actual bias, since establishing whether the judge has an interest in the case is difficult. However, language use, emotional and unreasoned judgment, and giving personal opinions are some of the indicators of bias.

Duty to Give Reasons

Whenever a court makes any decision, it has to give a reason because it is a foundation of the rule of law. In fact, the legal profession expects those practicing it at any level to give reasons for their decisions and behaviour to prevent public anxiety. However, the issue is debatable since not all stakeholders are supportive of this view, as others believe judges have no moral authority to explain their actions and decisions. One of the reasons that force the judiciary to explain its decisions is the uncertainties surrounding the profession and the issues touching on transparency. Again, a judge has to give reasons to avoid arbitrary decision-making and promote excellent administration. Whenever a reason is given, members of the public believe there was fair play even though the decision might be unfavourable to one party. When giving reasons, the decisions of each panellist should be recorded depicting his or her views. If possible, the facts should be given to satisfy the intelligent reader wishing to understand the actions of judges. For instance, the decision should give summaries of the complaint, as well as the appeal if any. As judges give reasons, they have to consider identifying the procedural issues, including requests for postponement of the case, the days in which either of the parties failed to attend the proceedings, and the challenges encountered. The undisputed facts have to be analyzed and reported to the public, especially the relevant evidence, the preferred one, and witnesses available.

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