Dr. Bausback

Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback

Bavarian Minister of Justice

Only to serve truth and justice is what German judges swear at the beginning of their terms—a supposedly clear target. But the search for truth in the courtroom has limits. For example, the defendant, and also a witness in certain conflict situations, is allowed to remain silent; an illegally obtained piece of evidence may possibly not be utilized in the judgment; or the court is confronted with two contradictory, but equally credible statements. From time to time, a court of law cannot discern what exactly transpired during the event in question; judicial rules then decide to whose disadvantage this will be.

This seems less than satisfactory—but it is also the very essence of our rule of law that not all means are acceptable for the sake of truth, that the fundamental rights of defendants, parties and witnesses in certain cases do and must take precedence.

And, of course, judges also remain people on their fallible quest for truth—unlike the omniscient and all-powerful God of our Christian faith—with many obstacles and uncertainties hindering their search. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, the intent of proper administration of law is to seek out the truth with all our might in each individual case.

I am sure that your conference on this exciting topic will bear many interesting and fruitful discussions, and I wish you all a joyous and successful event.