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What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.


Proposal: NO BENDING FOR THE JUDGES
Other - Feb 14, 2023

17% in favour out of 18 votes

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta


While entering the court, there should be no bowing in front of the judges. They aren't God. Certain cultures forbid this or any bending or bowing to any Human being, irrespective of their world status. Why do we still use these outdated practices from the stone age?

0 12 months ago

Anonymous 2017
   Edmonton Region, Alberta


Some may say that stating a practice is outdated merely for the reason that more outdated customs and religions would find it objectionable, is no real critique, though.

Outward signs of respect are important, in my mind, though. The appearance of solemnity provides actual solemnity.

I don't know any sign of respect that could be given that otherwise wouldn't attract a criticism based on another culture or principle of conscience someone holds.

Some cultures also say that if you don't bow, that's disresepctful.

I see pros and cons. Simply trying to flesh out the debate for now.

Is it actually mandatory? What happens if you don't do it?


1 12 months ago

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta


Some judges pick on you.

0 12 months ago

Anonymous 2020
   Edmonton Region, Alberta


It is really no different than a soldier stopping at the door and making a movement of deference to the senior rank in their office before/after entering. Marks of respect for the Court of Law of which we are all officers.

What is next? Removing our Barristers Oath?


2 12 months ago

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta


An oath is different than bowing to someone.

0 12 months ago - edited 12 months ago

Wayne Barkauskas, K.C. Executive
 view Arbitrator profile
  Wise Scheible Barkauskas
   Calgary, Alberta


I believe that respectful behavior to the court and other lawyers has already deteriorated enough. If anything, I suggest MORE formality is required to demonstrate that the courts, and the judiciary are a place of utmost decorum, no matter how you feel about the process, the result or the other side.

5 12 months ago

Anonymous 2018
   Calgary Region, Alberta


Yes Wayne, but the judges have to hold self-reps accountable when they're acting disrespectful.

In response to OP's sentiment, while it's kind of funny to be a turd about the whole thing, and while I'm usually the one acting like a punk adolescent towards old customs, Wayne is right. The court is supposed to be larger than life because it only exists if we all believe in it. The reason our Code disallows us from talking shit about the judicial system is because people will pick up on that, and then disputes will be resolved in the street rather than the court. And honestly, I can't throw a good punch so I'm happier that this court thing exists.

We can stop bowing, sure, but then suggest another method to ensure the court is treated like a big deal. Because it has to be thought of as a big deal. Bowing and wearing robes seems like a very easy solution when compared against the intense resources needed to enforce "failed to be respectful" fines. So what's your suggestion?


3 12 months ago

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta


@Anonymous 2018:I recommend placing your palm over your heart, which is where respect and devotion eventually reside.

0 12 months ago - edited 12 months ago

Anonymous 2018
   Calgary Region, Alberta


@Anonymous 2021: I like it. Let's do it.

I disagree with your reasons though. Respect and devotion are functions of the brain. Hearts are for our Valentines.


1 12 months ago

Anonymous 2021
   Other Region, Alberta


@Anonymous 2018: 💖⏩⚖️🧑‍⚖️

1 12 months ago - edited 12 months ago

Jack Hauptman
  Shourie Bhatia LLP
   Edmonton, Alberta


Bowing is a matter of Courtroom Etiquette. The Courtroom is a formal place guided by strict rules. It demands a serious attitude from attendees. If we lawyers don't show respect for the institution, then who will?

In addition, you are not actually bowing to the specific Judge. You are bowing to the Coat of Arms that is behind the Judge as a sign of respect for the rule of law and the judicial office.

Also, you don't have to go into a full bow. It's not Downton Abbey. Technically, the court bow is called a "neck bow". It isn't much more than a dignified nod.

Lastly, I wasn't aware that they had courts in the stone age, but if they did, and they bowed to the rule of law then, why stop now?

Jack Hauptman.


2 12 months ago

Stephen Harfield
  Queck & Associates
   Sherwood Park, Alberta


Bowing is customary, though not mandatory.

Bowing from the neck suffices in court, but from the waist is more gracious.

A lawyer to whom the court expresses its thanks or a compliment should rise and bow.

Many judges maintain the tradition of bowing upon convening or adjourning court, in which case counsel should bow as well.

The general rules of etiquette, if you read Emily Post, comes down to consideration, respect, and honesty. For lawyers there are manners and there are duties, both have their role in cultivating the proper space for adjudication.

Certain things eventually go out of fashion. "My Lord/Lady" has perhaps run its course, and as acknowledged by the recent practice note amendments. "My Friend/Learned Friend" is another peculiarity that could be revisited. Bowing is fairly dated as well.

If we think the Path was a good step to help further break us out of being 19th century imperialists, then I certainly think some thought can be given about whether current deportment and protocol accomplishes the stated goals of the profession.

But what the comments above show is that we do not want respect and solemnity REMOVED. It's not acceptable to run a meeting of the Alberta Stamp Collecting Association with Hey How R Yas, and shouldn't be for Court.

So those are my comments. Just because the practice is flawed does not itself mean we should remove it and create a vaccuum of respect. But the idea isn't actually crazy that we should be always thinking about the goals we are trying to accomplish and what we do that serves, doesn't serve, or is neutral about it.

A "Neutral" thing might be why we continue to call it a "court". It's just a signifier, you have to call it something. But even then you find other countries calling them places of rights or justice, which might be better branding as well.


1 12 months ago

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