Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh Dear

TODAY, The Sun demands...

# Suspension for bad judges

# 'Name and shame' lists of judges suspended or disciplined published by the Government

# Abolition of Court of Appeal double jeopardy rule

# Increased deadline to appeal against a lenient sentence to three months

# Judges are made to tell victims they have the right to appeal a soft sentence

# Elected public prosecutors and community judges

So the mob continues to close in.

No sensible person could deny that it is important to retain public confidence in the justice system. If that confidence breaks down we risk vigilantism and its attendant injustice. I have seen some academic research and I have helped with public open meetings which suggest very strongly that when in possession of the full facts Mr.and Mrs. Average Citizen come to pretty much the same conclusion as do judges and magistrates.

This and other tabloid campaigns start from the premise that only a prison sentence is a punishment, and the longer the sentence the greater the 'justice'. They assume that draconian punishments will always deter further offending - if only it were that simple. The campaign against judges has all the perfect ingredients for a tabloid editor such as Rebekah Wade of the Sun to exploit.

Judges (and to some extent JPs) are deemed to be out of touch, old, posh, and tainted with 'Political Correctness' which is the lazy journo's code for someone he or she can't be bothered to debate with.
Senior editors such as Ms Wade move in exalted circles, have nice cars and obliging chauffeurs, dine at Chequers and fly hither and yon in comfortable areas of aeroplanes, their seats paid for by someone else. They are invited to the best parties, and although they are puppets, they are treated with deference that is really being accorded to the proprietor who is pulling the strings.
So what could be more fun than calling in the mob to howl down bewigged old coves who can easily be made to look silly in their 18th century court dress?

It's scary. The campaign is wrong. The statistics are out of proportion and misleading. At the end of the line is the desire to elect judges. Then God help us all. Ken Livingstone, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Hitler were all elected, and it was the decision of the mob that freed Barabbas. It doesn't give you much confidence in the judgement of the ill-informed populace does it?


This gives a more balanced view.

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