I've heard of a sentiment that a licensed lawyer should remain respectful of the court in order to promote faith in the justice system.

Is there a law or a rule against criticizing judges in and or outside of the court room?

Could you explain how that works?

2 Answers 2


In most jurisdictions there is a crime called contempt of court; willful disrespect of the court or its officers, including the judge, can lead to your arrest and goaling. Respectful and measured criticism would not be contempt but it's not a line you want to be anywhere near. There is a similar crime called contempt of parliament. So there's that.

There is also the more practical aspect that a lawyer has an ongoing professional relationship with a judge; one in which the judge has most of the power. It would be extremely unprofessional for a judge to allow their personal feelings about a lawyer to influence their decisions but judges are people first. The phrase "nothing personal" is inapplicable to human beings.

  • So the bar is not explicitly set higher for a lawyer, as an officer of the court? Only implicitly because, and to the extent that, a lawyer can't well afford to make an enemy of a judge?
    – feetwet
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:13

I am not a lawyer, but I would expect there can't be a rule against criticising judges. I say this because it would be a violation of laws relating to freedom of speech (no doubt most "modern/western" countries have this incorporated into their laws, as it flows, among other things, from the Universal Declaration of human rights).

On the flipside, lawyers are, in many/most places officers of the court, and thus have a duty to the court, thus this duty is more likely to be an ethical then legal one.

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