“We have a tremendous judiciary. I think that the judges of Cook County are dedicated, hard-working, conscientious and make me proud to have them as my colleagues.”
The public does not understand what judges do. “Because unless you go to court you're not going to find out the real deal. Going to the doctor is not the same as seeing a doctor show on T.V., and watching a movie or reading a book or a novel or a T.V. program about lawyers is not the same. They're not all easy packages that could be finished in one hour.”
The public may not fully understand that judges have to live under higher ethical standards. Or that most judges believe that’s a 24/7 responsibility. “The Code of Judicial Conduct provides for higher standards for judges than for others in society.” The public has a right to expect more of judges.
“We're neutrals, we should act like neutrals. We should bring honor to our job and be individuals who can be trusted and respected and counted on to do the right thing and under the circumstances.”
On the other hand, people should not expect judges to be smarter or wiser than others.
Hyman sees the role of judges as, simply, “To be fair and neutral and transparent and explain oneself and make decisions. Behave in a respectful manner. Take one's life affairs in a respectful manner.”
Has he changed? “No, because I am who I am. People had said to me before I became a judge, you should be a judge. I never thought I'd be here, but I am. No, I've always tried to act the way we should act as members of a diverse society that believes in equality and the freedoms that we have.”
He has the same advice for private mediators, neutrals and arbitrators, “Know the rules under which you're operating. The Rules of Professional Conduct you're operating under may be the Rules of Judicial Conduct. That's why I think so many judges go into that area because it's natural for judges.” They should not think of themselves as operating under a lesser standard than judges.
I couldn’t resist asking my friend his thoughts about judicial dignity.
“I don't think a judge who dresses inappropriately for whatever that might be, would be showing dignity to the office. You're public servant. You have given up certain things because of your job and I don't think if a judge is someone who in public is very disagreeable and honks his or her horn all the time and has something on their bumper, a sticker that says something that may be inappropriate that anybody else might be able to have a First Amendment right to say, but as a judge you say it, that's inappropriate. That's not appropriate for a judge.”
Should a judge display their personality or should a judge on the bench try hard not to? “It depends on the case. If it's a criminal case and the judge is smiling at the wrong spots or laughing or crying or doing different things that might be emotional, the part of his or her personality would be totally inappropriate, or in a civil case.”
Do judges have a 24/7 obligation to meet certain standards? “Absolutely.”
Could a judge go around in a clown suit? “If they're entertaining someone.” What if they want to walk down the street in a clown suit—can a judge do that? “No.”
What about just going to the beach in a bathing suit? “That's okay, people go to beaches in bathing suits. If they went to the beach in their clothes or a suit and tie, that would be kind of strange, but they could do that too, if they go to the beach in an appropriate swimsuit.”
What about lying about their golf score? “It depends on who they’re lying to. You lie about your golf score, that's not something you would want someone who is supposed to be.”
So you say no? “I don't think that's something you should do. If somebody knows a judge cheated in golf, I think people would think less of that judge and think less of the judiciary.
“The thing you should know, though? I don't play golf.”