What makes a judge impartial

German democracy

Horst Poetzsch

To person

Until 1992, the historian and political scientist Horst Pötzsch was head of the "Political Education in Schools" department of the Federal Agency for Political Education.

The judiciary in Germany is exercised by independent judges who are only subject to the law. Every citizen has the right to be heard.

The statue of Justitia in Frankfurt (& copy AP)

The task of jurisprudence is to protect and enforce the law. The state has set up courts for this. In the event of legal conflicts between the state and citizens and between individual citizens, you decide what is legal in a procedure according to established rules.


Your decision, the legal verdict, is final and binding for all parties as soon as it is final. If necessary, it can be enforced forcibly.

In a number of constitutional provisions, the Basic Law guarantees jurisdiction based on the principles of the rule of law.

Judicial independence

According to Art. 92 GG, jurisdiction is entrusted to the judges. Judges are independent and only subject to the law (Art. 97 GG). They are not subject to any instructions when performing their duties.

A judge must also decide according to the law if it contradicts his legal opinion. If a judge considers the applicable law to be incompatible with the Basic Law in a specific individual case, he must obtain a decision from the competent constitutional court according to Art. 100 GG. In the case of state laws, this is the state constitutional court, in the case of federal laws, the Federal Constitutional Court.

Judges cannot be removed or transferred. A service supervisor only ensures that they do their official business properly. A judge can only be dismissed in the event of serious breaches of duty, such as the misappropriation of evidence.

Judicial independence is intended to ensure impartial jurisdiction. In addition, the Basic Law contains a number of provisions that serve to protect citizens in court proceedings, the so-called basic judicial rights (Art. 101, 103, 104 GG).

Right to the legal judge

Article 101
(1) Exceptional courts are not permitted. No one shall be deprived of his legal judge.
(2) Courts for special subject areas can only be established by law.


The Basic Law prohibits exceptional courts. For example, there must be no special courts that only judge political crimes or only moral offenses. The law regulates which court is responsible for a matter, for example the district court, the administrative court, the labor court.

Even within the courts, a business distribution plan specifies which judge is to take over a case. It would be inadmissible to withdraw a case from the judge responsible according to the business allocation plan and transfer it to another because this is considered to be particularly strict or mild. This also includes the right to reject a judge for bias. It does not depend on whether the judge is really biased; the justified assumption that he cannot make an objective decision is sufficient for filing an application. A court decides on the application.