Negative Commandment #72
Sefer Ha’mitzvos Ha’Katzar (The concise book of mitzvos)
By the Chofetz Chaim
This book lists the Torah mitzvos that can be observed today
Second Section – the Negative Commandments
72. It is a negative commandment for a judge “do not fear the litigants.”
As it states in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 1:17, “do not become afraid in front of any man.” Even though a litigant may be strong, do not be afraid that he will cause you harm. Any time a judge feels he does not know which way to rule, he can remove himself from the trial stating, “I am no longer bound to you.” But once he listens to their words and knows which way the judgment is in favor of, he is not allowed to remove himself due to the fact he is afraid one of the litigants will hurt him. Included in this commandment is if a student is sitting in front of his Rabi (who is a judge) and sees something that can help a poor person win the case but go against a wealthy person in the case, and the student remains silent, the student violates this commandment.
This applies in all places and at all times.