This contribution investigates the determinants of judicial confidence. It argues that this is the decisive source of legitimacy for the third branch. Fairness and impartiality, i.e. the independence of the judiciary, are paramount in fostering citizens' confidence in the justice system. Through several multilevel analyses, the study tests whether judicial independence promotes the development of an individual's confidence in the justice system. The results show that judicial independence has a positive impact on the development of individual trust. However, public beliefs about the trustworthiness of judicial institutions do not seem to originate from constitutional rules (de jure independence) but from actual events and real life experiences (de facto independence).