Lady Justice

Lady Justice (Latin: Iustitia) is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.[1][2] Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance, and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia, who holds a mirror and a snake.

Lady Justice originates from the personification of Justice in Ancient Roman art known as Iustitia or Justitia after Latin: Iustitia,[3] who is equivalent to the Greek goddesses Themis and Dike.

HK Central Statue Square Legislative Council Building n Themis s
Justitia blindfolded and holding balance scales and a sword. Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong

The Goddess Iustitia

The origin of Lady Justice was Iustitia, the goddess of Justice within Roman mythology. Iustitia was introduced by emperor Augustus, and was thus not a very old deity in the Roman pantheon.

Iustice was one of the virtues celebrated by emperor Augustus in his clipeus virtutis, and a Temple of Iustitia was established in Rome 8 January 13 BC by emperor Tiberius.[3] Iustitia became a symbol for the virtue of justice with which every emperor wished to associate his regime; emperor Vespasian minted coins with the image of the goddess seated on a throne called Iustitia Augusta, and many emperors after him used the image of the goddess to proclaim themselves protectors of justice.[3]

Though formally called a goddess with her own temple and cult shrine in Rome, it appears that she was from the onset viewed more as an artistic symbolic personification rather than as an actual deity with religious significance.


Weighing of the heart3
The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead depicts a scene in which a deceased person's heart is weighed against the feather of truth.

The personification of justice balancing the scales dates back to the goddess Maat, and later Isis, of ancient Egypt. The Hellenic deities Themis and Dike were later goddesses of justice. Themis was the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom, in her aspect as the personification of the divine rightness of law.


Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's support and opposition.

The Greek goddess Dike is depicted holding a set of scales.

Bacchylides, Fragment 5 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric c. 5th B.C.):

If some god had been holding level the balance of Dike (Justice).

The scales represent the weighing of evidence, and the scales lack a foundation in order to signify that evidence should stand on its own.


Lady Justice at Castallania, Malta.jpeg
18th-century Lady Justice at the Castellania

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status. The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia with the sword in one hand and the scale in the other, but with her eyes uncovered.[4] Justitia was only commonly represented as "blind" since the middle of the 16th century. The first known representation of blind Justice is Hans Gieng's 1543 statue on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) in Berne.[5]

Instead of using the Janus approach, many sculptures simply leave out the blindfold altogether. For example, atop the Old Bailey courthouse in London, a statue of Lady Justice stands without a blindfold;[6] the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded, and because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant.[7] Another variation is to depict a blindfolded Lady Justice as a human scale, weighing competing claims in each hand. An example of this can be seen at the Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee.[8]


The sword represented authority in ancient times, and conveys the idea that justice can be swift and final.[9]


The Greco-Roman garment symbolizes the status of the philosophical attitude that embodies justice.[9]

Lady Justice in art

Berner Iustitia

Lady Justice with sword, scales and blindfold on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen in Berne, Switzerland—1543

A Justica Alfredo Ceschiatti Brasilia Brasil

The Justice, in front of the Supreme Court of Brazil

Pediment courthouse, Rome, Italy

Lady Justice seated at the entrance of The Palace of Justice, Rome, Italy


Sculpture of Lady Justice on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Frankfurt) in Frankfurt, Germany

Justicia Ottawa

Justitia, outside the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Statue of Justice, Central Criminal Court, London, UK - 20030311

The Central Criminal Court or Old Bailey, London, UK

Itojyuku themis

Themis, Itojyuku, Shibuya-ku, Japan

Justice statue

19th-century sculpture of the Power of Law at Olomouc, Czech Republic—lacks the blindfold and scales of Justice, replacing the latter with a book

Statue of Themis

Themis, Chuo University, Tama-shi, Japan

Chuo highschool themis

Themis, Chuo University Suginami high school, Suginami-ku, Japan

Law place du Palais-Bourbon Paris

The Law, by Jean Feuchère


Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Goddess of justice

Themis, outside the Supreme Court of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Justitia szobra a Kúria épületében

Justitia in the Superior Courts Building in Budapest, Hungary

Fronton oud gerechtsgebouw, Gent

Themis, Old courthouse, Ghent, Belgium

Campinas, detalhe do Palácio da Justiça

Justiça, high-relief in front of Justice Palace, Campinas, Brazil

Sala di costantino, giustizia

Fresco in the Sala di Costantino, Raphael Rooms, Raphael, c. 1520


Gerechtigkeit, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1537

Luca Giordano 013

Luca Giordano, Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, 1684–1686


Justitia (Spitzweg), Carl Spitzweg, c. 1857

Lady Justice and her symbols are used in heraldry, especially in the arms of legal government agencies.

DEU Ilshofen COA

Justitia in arms of Ilshofen in Baden-Württemberg

Svea hovrätt vapen

Scales and sword in the arms of a Swedish court of law

Hörby kommunvapen - Riksarkivet Sverige

Scales balanced on a sword in the arms of Hörby

Landskrona fulla vapen

Prudentia and Justitia as supporters in the armorial achievement of Landskrona

US-Fractional (3rd Issue)-$0.50-Fr.1355

Justice holding scales, $0.50 U.S. fractional currency.

See also


  1. ^ Hamilton, Marci. God vs. the Gavel, page 296 (Cambridge University Press 2005): "The symbol of the judicial system, seen in courtrooms throughout the United States, is blindfolded Lady Justice."
  2. ^ Fabri, The challenge of change for judicial systems, page 137 (IOS Press 2000): "the judicial system is intended to be apolitical, its symbol being that of a blindfolded Lady Justice holding balanced scales."
  3. ^ a b c "IUSTITIA".
  4. ^ See "The Scales of Justice as Represented in Engravings, Emblems, Reliefs and Sculptures of Early Modern Europe" in G. Lamoine, ed., Images et representations de la justice du XVie au XIXe siècle (Toulouse: University of Toulose-Le Mirail, 1983)" at page 8.
  5. ^ Image of Lady Justice in Berne.
  6. ^ Image of Lady Justice in London.
  7. ^ Colomb, Gregory. Designs on Truth, p. 50 (Penn State Press, 1992).
  8. ^ Image of Lady Justice in Memphis.
  9. ^ a b Brent T. Edwards. "Symbolism of Lady Justice". Retrieved 24 February 2017.

External links

Allegorical sculpture

Allegorical sculpture refers to sculptures that symbolize and particularly personify abstract ideas as in allegory. Common in the western world, for example, are statues of Lady Justice representing justice, traditionally holding scales and a sword, and the statues of Prudence, representing Truth by holding a mirror and squeezing a serpent.This approach of using human form and its posture, gesture and clothing to wordlessly convey social values and themes.

It may be seen in funerary art as early as 1580. They were used on renaissance monuments when patron saints became unacceptable. Particularly popular were the four cardinal virtues and the three Christian virtues, but others such as fame, victory, hope and time are also represented. The use of allegorical sculpture was fully developed under the École des Beaux-Arts. It is sometimes associated with Victorian art, and is commonly found in works dating from around 1900.

Anne Rafferty

Dame Anne Judith Rafferty, (born 26 July 1950), officially styled The Right Honourable Lady Justice Rafferty, is an English jurist, who has served as a Lady Justice of Appeal of England and Wales since 2011.

Court of Appeal judge (England and Wales)

A Lord Justice of Appeal or Lady Justice of Appeal is an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the court that hears appeals from the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court, and represents the second highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales. Despite the title, and unlike the former Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, they are not necessarily peers.

Court of Appeal of Kenya

The Court of Appeal of Kenya is established under Article164 of the constitution of Kenya and consists of a number of judges, being not fewer than twelve and not more than thirty.

The Court handles appeals arising over the decisions of the High Court of Kenya as well as any other court or Tribunal as provided for in Law. The Judges of the Court of Appeal elect a President to represent them on the Judicial Service Commission.

The Court of Appeal currently has six registries, one each in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.


Dausenau is a municipality in the district of Rhein-Lahn, in Rhineland-Palatinate, in western Germany.

Dausenau was one of the oldest possessions of the counts of Nassau and the arms thus show the lion of Nassau. The village was granted city rights in 1348, but these west later lost again. The seals of Dausenau showed from at least the 15th century until 1568 a seal with the arms and St. Castor as a supporter, he is the patron saint of the local church. In an 18th-century seal only the picture of Lady Justice was shown, not a shield with the lion. The present arms were granted in 1937 and go back to the old seal.

Dick Wathika

Dick Mwangi Wathika (20 October 1973 – 19 December 2015) was a Kenyan politician who served as mayor of Nairobi. He was elected in July 2004, and was re-elected in 2006.

He vied successfully for the Makadara Constituency parliamentary seat in the 2007 Kenyan parliamentary elections, on a Party of National Unity ticket.

Wathika's 2007 election to Nairobi's Makadara Constituency was annulled on 30 April 2010. The judgment was delivered by Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal, who said the electoral process was marred by irregularities. Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected, but said that she would issue a ruling in the afternoon on whether to stay the judgment before giving the parliamentary Speaker a certificate nullifying the MP's election.The by-election was held on 20 September 2010. He failed to retain the seat, as the poll was won by Gideon Mbuvi Kioko of NARC-Kenya followed by Reuben Ndolo of ODM, while Wathika was left third.Dick Wathika contested unsuccessfully for the Mukurwe-ini Parliamentary Seat in the 2013 general elections. He died on 19 December 2015 for as of yet undetermined cause after having gone to the hospital.

Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Bern)

The Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) is a 16th-century fountain in the Gerechtigkeitsgasse in the Old City of Bern, Switzerland. It is the only Bernese fountain to retain all original design elements, and is listed as a cultural heritage of national significance.Thanks to its namesake figure, Hans Gieng's famous statue of Lady Justice, the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen surpasses all other Bernese fountains in artistic merit. The iconic figure was copied throughout Switzerland up until the middle of the 17th century. The statue is a copy of the original, which was largely destroyed by vandals in 1986.


The Gerechtigkeitsgasse ("Justice Alley") is one of the principal streets in the Old City of Bern, the medieval city center of Bern, Switzerland. Together with its extension, the Kramgasse, it is the heart of the inner city. Hans Gieng's most famous fountain figure, the statue of Lady Justice on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, commands the view of the street's gentle slopes and curves.The Gerechtigkeitsgasse and its buildings are a heritage site of national significance and part of the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site that encompasses the Old City.

Heather Hallett

Dame Heather Carol Hallett (born 16 December 1949), styled The Rt Hon. Lady Justice Hallett, is an English judge of the Court of Appeal. She is the fifth woman to sit in the Court of Appeal after Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss (now Baroness Butler-Sloss) (1988), Dame Brenda Hale (now Baroness Hale of Richmond) (1999), Dame Mary Arden (2000) and Dame Janet Smith (2002).

The daughter of Hugh Victor Dudley Hallett (1919-1991), Q.P.M., a beat policeman who worked his way up to the rank of assistant chief constable and secretary general of the International Police Association, Hallett was educated at Brockenhurst Grammar School, in the New Forest, and at St Hugh's College, Oxford.

Hallett was called to the Bar by The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 1972. She became a Queen's Counsel in 1989 and a Bencher of Inner Temple in 1993. She was the first woman to chair the Bar Council, in 1998, having been vice-chair in 1997, and became Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 2011.

Hallett was appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court in 1989, a deputy High Court judge in 1995, became a full-time judge of the High Court, in 1999, in Queen's Bench Division, and was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2005. She was appointed a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission in January 2006, as a representative of the judiciary.

Hallett was chosen in 2009 to act as coroner in the inquest of the 52 fatal victims of the 7/7 bombings; hearings began in October 2010.

She began a four-year term as Vice-President of the Queen's Bench Division on 3 October 2011, succeeding Lord Justice Thomas.In May 2012 in an appeal hearing she quashed the murder conviction of 24-year-old Sam Hallam as unsafe after he had spent seven years in prison, which made him one of the youngest victims of a UK miscarriage of justice.In February 2013 she was assessed as the 8th most powerful woman in Britain by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. In November 2013, she was appointed Vice-President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, succeeding Lord Hughes.In March 2014 she was appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to carry out an independent review of the administrative scheme by which 'letters of assurance' were sent to those known as the 'on the runs' (OTRs).On 14 June 2017 she was made an Honorary Fellow of The Academy of Experts in recognition of her contribution to The Academy's Judicial Committee and work for Expert Witnesses.

Hallett is married to Nigel Vivian Marshall Wilkinson, Q.C., a recorder and deputy high court judge; they have two sons.

High Court (Kenya)

The High Court of Kenya was established under article 165 of the constitution of Kenya. It has supervisory jurisdiction over all other subordinate courts and any other persons, body or authority exercising a judicial or quasi-judicial function. It was known as the Supreme Court of Kenya until 1964 and its name has remain unchanged since then.The High Court comprises a maximum of 150 judges, and there are twenty High Court stations spread throughout Kenya. By 2018 every county is expected to have a High Court station with 36 counties already having at least one High Court station. It has jurisdiction over all criminal and civil matters, and handles criminal and civil cases and appeals from lower courts. It also deals with constitutional matters and supervises all administrative functions within the judiciary.

The High Court has several departments established under it:

Family Court

Commercial and Admiralty Court

Constitutional and Judicial Review Court

Land and Environment Court - Land and environment matters, including appeals from land tribunals

Criminal Court

Industrial Court - Labour and employment matters


The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicial branch or court system) is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary can also be thought of as the mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make statutory law (which is the responsibility of the legislature) or enforce law (which is the responsibility of the executive), but rather interprets law and applies it to the facts of each case. However, in some countries the judiciary does make common law, setting precedent for other courts to follow. This branch of the state is often tasked with ensuring equal justice under law.

In many jurisdictions the judicial branch has the power to change laws through the process of judicial review. Courts with judicial review power may annul the laws and rules of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher norm, such as primary legislation, the provisions of the constitution or international law. Judges constitute a critical force for interpretation and implementation of a constitution, thus de facto in common law countries creating the body of constitutional law. For a people to establish and keep the 'Rule of Law' as the operative norm in social constructs great care must be taken in the election or appointment of unbiased and thoughtful legal scholars whose loyalty to an oath of office is without reproach. If law is to govern and find acceptance generally courts must exercise fidelity to justice which means affording those subject to its jurisdictional scope the greatest presumption of inherent cultural relevance within this framework.

In the US during recent decades the judiciary became active in economic issues related with economic rights established by constitution because "economics may provide insight into questions that bear on the proper legal interpretation". Since many countries with transitional political and economic systems continue treating their constitutions as abstract legal documents disengaged from the economic policy of the state, practice of judicial review of economic acts of executive and legislative branches have begun to grow.

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court of India for almost a decade had been encouraging public interest litigation on behalf of the poor and oppressed by using a very broad interpretation of several articles of the Indian Constitution. Budget of the judiciary in many transitional and developing countries is almost completely controlled by the executive. This undermines the separation of powers, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. The proper national wealth distribution including the government spending on the judiciary is subject of the constitutional economics.

It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the state (through budget planning and various privileges), and the private.The term "judiciary" is also used to refer collectively to the personnel, such as judges, magistrates and other adjudicators, who form the core of a judiciary (sometimes referred to as a "bench"), as well as the staffs who keep the system running smoothly. In some countries and jurisdictions, judiciary branch is expanded to include additional public legal professionals and institutions such as prosecutors, state lawyers, ombudsmen, public notaries, judicial police service and legal aid officers. These institutions are sometimes governed by the same judicial administration that governs courts, and in some cases the administration of the judicial branch is also the administering authority for private legal professions such as lawyers and private "notary" offices.

Lady Justice (Salem, Oregon)

Lady Justice is a 12-foot (3.7 m)-tall, 300-pound (140 kg) Lady Justice statue in Salem, Oregon, United States. Formerly located on the roof of the Marion County Courthouse, the sculpture is now installed in Willamette University's Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center. The Willamette University College of Law received the statue when the Marion County Courthouse was demolished to make way for a new one.

Lady Justice (comics)

Lady Justice is a comic book published by Tekno Comix, starting in 1995. It was created by Neil Gaiman and the first three issues were written by Wendi Lee, with art by Greg Boone. The remaining issues of the first series were written by C. J. Henderson, with art by Michael Netzer/Steve Lieber in the first series and Fred Harper/Mike Harris in the second.

Libra (astrology)

Libra (♎) is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac.

It spans 180°–210° celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 31 to November 22. The symbol of the scales is based on the Scales of Justice held by Themis, the Greek personification of divine law and custom. She became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice. The ruling planet of Libra is Venus. Libra and Aquarius are the only zodiac constellations in the sky represented by inanimate objects.The other eleven signs are represented either as an animal or mythological characters throughout history.Libra is one of the three zodiac air signs, the others being Gemini and Aquarius. The sign of Libra is symbolized by the scales. The moon was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded. Everything was balanced under this righteous sign. The Roman writer Manilius once said that Libra was the sign "in which the seasons are balanced". Both the hours of the day and the hours of the night match each other. Thus why the Romans put so much trust in the "balanced sign".

Going back to ancient Greek times, Libra the constellation between Virgo and Scorpio used to be ruled over by the constellation of Scorpio. They called the area the Latin word "chelae", which translated to "the claws" which can help identify the individual stars that make up the full constellation of Libra, since it was so closely identified with the Scorpion constellation in the sky.According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Libra when it reaches the southern vernal equinox, which occurs around September 22.

Mary Arden, Lady Arden of Heswall

Mary Howarth Arden, Lady Arden of Heswall, (born 23 January 1947), is an English judge.

She currently serves as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Before that, she was a judge on the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit dates from 1176 when Henry II sent his judges on circuit to do justice in his name. The Circuit encompassed the whole of the North of England but in 1876 it was divided. That part to the west of the Pennines retained the old name. The land to the east became the territory of the newly formed North Eastern Circuit. The two circuits have maintained strong links.

The Northern Circuit stretches from Carlisle in Cumbria at its northernmost point, running through Lakeland to the port of Whitehaven in the West, on through Preston and Burnley in Lancashire to Manchester, Liverpool and Chester.

In 1876, 62 members of the Bar had chambers on the circuit. There were 29 in Liverpool, 32 in Manchester and 1 solitary practitioner in Preston. Today the circuit has a membership of some 1100 barristers of whom about 77 are Queen's Counsel, practising from chambers in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Chester. They follow on from a long line of Counsel who have become household names such as F. E. Smith (later to become Lord Birkenhead), Lord Shawcross QC (Leading Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II) and George Carman QC.

There have been other Circuiteers who have attained fame outside the law – the author John Buchan, W. S. Gilbert and James Boswell, the biographer of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Boswell was Junior of the Circuit. Since 1876 the Circuit which presently comprises 10 per cent of the Bar has produced the following judges:

President of the Supreme Court 1

Lord Chancellors 3

Law Lords 7

Lord Chief Justices 3

President of Queen's Bench Division 1

Master of the Rolls 3

Presidents, Probate, Divorce & Admiralty 5

Senior President of Tribunals 1

Lords Justice of Appeal 28

Lady Justice of Appeal 2

High Court Judges 92During 2001, one Law Lord, three Lord Justices of Appeal (including the Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division), one Lady Justice of Appeal and 12 High Court Judges were members of the Northern Circuit. In 1994, of the five female High Court Judges, four were Northern Circuiteers. Rose Heilbron QC was the first female High Court judge from the Circuit, 20 years earlier.

Rape of Lady Justice cartoon controversy

The Rape of Lady Justice cartoon controversy occurred in response to a cartoon drawn by the cartoonist Zapiro and published in the South African newspaper the Sunday Times on 7 September 2008. The cartoon depicts future South African President Jacob Zuma unbuttoning his pants whilst four men representing key Zuma supporters within the African National Congress (ANC) led tripartite alliance hold down a woman representing Lady Justice indicating that Zuma was about to rape lady justice with the assistance and encouragement of the other four men depicted.The four men, from left to right, are Julius Malema (then leader of the African National Congress Youth League), Gwede Mantashe (a senior ANC leader), Blade Nzimande (general secretary of the South African Communist Party), and Zwelinzima Vavi (General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)). The cartoon depicts Mantashe encouraging Zuma by stating "Go for it, boss!"

Supreme Court of Kenya

The Supreme Court of Kenya is the highest court in Kenya. It is established under Article 163 of the Kenyan Constitution. As the highest court in the nation, its decisions are binding and set precedent on all other courts in the country.

Victoria Sharp

Dame Victoria Madeleine Sharp, (born 8 February 1956), styled The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Sharp, is an English Lady Justice of Appeal.

Educated at North London Collegiate School and the University of Bristol, Victoria Sharp was called to the Bar, Inner Temple in 1979. She became a Recorder in 1998 and was also a made a QC in 1986.She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), as is customary, on her appointment as a Justice of the High Court on 13 January 2009.She became Vice-President of the Queen's Bench Division on 1 January 2016, succeeding Sir Nigel Davis.

In May 2017, she sentenced a man who unintentionally and under the influence of alcohol caused a fire on a plane toilet to nine years and six months imprisonment.

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