The most obvious way to preserve both independence and accountability is for judges to police themselves and to remove themselves from cases where they cannot be impartial. English tradition started out in this direction, but changed. The two following excerpts illustrate the shift. One comes from Chief Justice William de Ralegh and Henri de Bracton thirteenth-century treatise, The Laws and Customs of England ( 1270), and the other, from an even more influential treatment of English law, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England ( 1765). Blackstone ( 1723-1780) was himself to be a judge of King's Bench ( 1770-1780), but at the time of the Commentaries, he was the first professor of English law at Oxford University. It is worth noting that it is Ralegh the judge who defended recusal and Blackstone the professor who had too exalted a view of judges to tolerate it.
Now it must be seen if there can be some competent exception against the person of the justice, as when for some reason he is held suspect because of fear, hate, or love. And I do not see why he should be recused, for if he judges badly with deliberation he makes the case his own and will be bound to restitution of the losses when he is convicted of that by a superior; but if he does so through inexperience, it will not be so, although he can be summoned to come and make a record so that those things needing correction may be corrected and amended to a proper state. Yet, as it appears, it is better to act in time than to seek a remedy after the case has been wounded--so let the suspect judge be removed