Thursday, August 04, 2011

Judgment Call

The many comments on my piece about the Westminster pie-flinger (and to this time-wearied old JP, it's the comments that make this blog worth doing) point up, as I hoped they would, just what a judicial decision is all about. Guidelines have become more and more prescriptive, but at some point in the justice process a tribunal, be it a trio of JPs, a DJ(MC) or a jury has to decide just how serious something was, or how culpable someone is, or whatever.

The Murdoch case drew opinions from across the whole spectrum; the assault was trivial and over-sentenced, or potentially dangerous and under-sentenced, and so on.

That's the whole point of a court. Mechanistic box-ticking can never deliver justice because only a human being can properly assess all of the myriad motives and pressures that another human being can be subject to. Of course sentences can be inconsistent, but given the variety of human behaviour no other outcome is possible.

If the failed entarteur were to come before, say, six lay benches, or three DJ(MC)s, or a circuit judge or two, you wouldn't get consistent results. What you would get would be a number of assessments of how to deal with the case within the law.

Justice can do different things in different ways, and remain just.

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