Nepal’s Towering Judge: the Honourable Kalyan Shrestha

This Presentation will introduce the concept of “towering judges”, which is the subject of a forthcoming edited volume. The volume discusses nineteen judges of apex and constitutional courts from fifteen jurisdictions. Within their particular political, historical, and institutional settings, each of these judges made a significant impact on the trajectory and development of constitutional law. The Presentation will define the concept of “towering judges”, discuss different dimensions along which judges may tower, explore their different modes of operation, and identify the conditions that are conductive to the rise of such judges. It will conclude on a cautionary note, by discussing some limitations of the study and the dangers that towering judges may pose to constitutional systems.

Towering Judges Advancing Democracy in the Civil Law Tradition

The depersonalization of the courts that the civil law tradition encourages makes it less likely that judges in those types of jurisdictions will become towering judges . By exploring the experience of Eugenio Valenzuela, a Chilean judge that served at the Constitutional Court in the 80s, this Chapter shows that, despite the limitations of the civil law tradition, sometimes it is nonetheless possible to identify a towering judge in a civil law country. The author studies how judge Valenzuela led a group of judges within the Chilean Constitutional Court and succeeded in challenging critical pieces of legislation enacted by the military Junta during the Pinochet dictatorship. By showing how the Valenzuela jurisprudence helped to advance the transition to democracy against the interests of the authoritarian regime, the author claims that founding moments in fragile institutional settings of civil law countries may provide an opportunity for a political towering judge to emerge.

The Socialist Model of Individual Judicial Powers

This chapter develops the socialist model of individual judicial powers. This model is characterized by the institutionalization of individual judicial powers. One of the instrumental functions of court design in the socialist state of Vietnam is to make sure that the judiciary is under the control of the Government and the Communist Party. This can be achieved by empowering the Chief Justice and placing them under the control of the Government and the Party. The Chief Justice in Vietnam, therefore, becomes towering not because of their jurisprudential excellence, but because of the institutional arrangement. The judicial institutional design in this socialist state naturally results in a towering Chief Justice. The socialist model of individual judicial powers is exemplified by the case of policeman-turn Chief Justice Truong Hoa Binh.

Introduction

This Presentation will introduce the concept of “towering judges”, which is the subject of a forthcoming edited volume. The volume discusses nineteen judges of apex and constitutional courts from fifteen jurisdictions. Within their particular political, historical, and institutional settings, each of these judges made a significant impact on the trajectory and development of constitutional law. The Presentation will define the concept of “towering judges”, discuss different dimensions along which judges may tower, explore their different modes of operation, and identify the conditions that are conductive to the rise of such judges. It will conclude on a cautionary note, by discussing some limitations of the study and the dangers that towering judges may pose to constitutional systems.