Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Ghost of an Independent Judiciary

Let's get this straight - ghosts cannot exist.

Reports of ghosts include people, dogs, cats and horses, but never cows, sheep or other farm animals, or even dolphins, gnats or fleas. Why should that be? Because ghosts are a figment of our imaginations and our imaginations don't usually consider cows or dolphins to be close to us. Dogs, cats and horses, however, are pets and thus close to us. Farmers should possibly see ghostly flocks of sheep or herds of cows, but you don't hear about it.

Look at it another way. Ghosts are meant to be the spirits of the dead, yet they invariably appear fully clothed - are these spirit clothes? Does the ability to transform into a spirit extend to inanimate matter - not that a dead body is animate anyway, but you get my drift? Can a whole bloody coach (and horses) transform into a ghostly coach (and horses)? Can a car transform into a spirit car? If literally anything can transform into a ghost then there should be ghostly towns and cities right next to us, interacting with us on a daily basis, which there clearly aren't.... Oh, I forgot about Dursley.... and Birmingham.... I've changed my mind... ghosts exist.

How can one guarantee the independence of the judiciary? A tall order, as everyone has a bias. The only sure way has to be using Artificial Intelligence programmed with all case law, constitutional law, etc., etc.. Not as daft as it seems and the legal profession is a ripe target for the replacement of humans by AI. However, how can you guarantee that the program hasn't been fiddled with or that the AI system doesn't itself become biased over time? It could become a classic case of who polices the police?

Making the judiciary subject to democratic accountability has its problems - the danger is that it becomes the creature of the mob, and those who lead the mob - the press barons. Given how influential the media is in the voting preferences of the UK electorate, the prospect of the media barons having similar populist influence over the selection of judges fills me with untold dread.

Some states in America have a retention system whereby unpopular judges can be voted out. The criticism is that money can talk to the electorate and fund misinformation campaigns to remove judges thought to be prejudicial to the funding organisation's aims. A famous case was Justice Rose Bird. The anti-retention campaign was financed with seven million dollars raised mostly in small contributions from individual citizens affronted by Chief Justice Bird’s obstinacy on the issue of capital punishment. She and her colleagues spent over four million dollars countering this, most of it contributed by lawyers faithful to the principle of judicial independence. The campaign of misinformation against her was politically motivated and orchestrated by Republican politicians up for re-election with the aim of making the Californian Supreme Court predominantly Republican.

Whatever is said, the UK justice system ranks in the world top 16 for civil justice and top 10 for criminal justice, as well as ranking extremely high for the absence of corruption.

It's a bit ironic that the Indian PM is seeking to link a trade deal with immigration. I can see that setting a bit of a precedent in negotiations with other potential trade partners and Brexit becoming a self-fulfilling own goal. Mrs May is definitely on the ropes; she's alienating Brexiteers by seemingly stalling and she's simultaneously alienating Remainers by not vigorously defending the judiciary - no wonder she doesn't want an election. However, as an early election is the only way of resolving this, she's even alienating those who don't care one way or the other and just want this whole business behind them.


  1. One wonders if ghostly cars run on spirits? I know witnesses of ghosts and angels are quite often fuelled by spirits of one kind or another.

  2. You might be interested in this link.. https://blogs.royalsociety.org/in-verba/2016/10/27/machine-learning-in-the-legal-sector/?utm_source=social_media&utm_medium=hootsuite&utm_campaign=standard