Professor Ben Barton (pic), a US legal academic, put the question in a December 2007 paper: Do Judges Systematically Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession?
He answered it thus:
“Many legal outcomes can be explained, and future cases predicted, by asking a very simple question: is there a plausible legal result in this case that will significantly affect the interests of the legal profession (positively or negatively)? If so, the case will be decided in the way that offers the best result for the legal profession.”
To blandly pervert justice in that way, it is necessary for judges to employ a bit of sophistry, the art of lying. As it happens, their only training is in that useful, if not entirely desirable, commodity.
Professor Barton has since expanded his paper into a book with a title, The Lawyer-Judge Bias, which seems the wrong way round.
In news just in, Cambridge University Press will publish the book next year.
Noble lord’s deep and impenetrable ignorance
The “rule of law” is a joke in the worst possible taste: British judges trained in sophistry ensured that the law is not interested in truth and justice; that lawyers can prolong the process interminably; and that the innocent go to prison and the guilty stay out.
It is not a joke to Tom Bingham (b. 1933, snap), the only beak to achieve the trifecta: Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice, Senior Law Lord.
In The Rule of Law (Allen Lane, 2010), the noble lord seems unaware of the injustice wrought by judges, or even that Magna Carta was basically a tax evasion ramp.
That the book may be the product of a sustained and sleepless sophistry is a prospect too horrible to contemplate, but it does seem to be the melancholy product of a deep and impenetrable ignorance.
I am thinking about pitching The Rule of Law out the window into the bowels of a passing garbage removal lorry.
Truth in a balloon
Theodore L. Kubicek JD (b. 1919), of Iowa, author of a book on the well-known oxymoron, Adversarial Justice (Algora, 2006), says:
“During my 40 years practising law, I avoided the field of battle known as the court room as much as possible as I soon became disenchanted with the adversarial system of justice.”
He has an image of the truth hanging over the court in a balloon. The lawyers can use strings to pull the balloon down to reveal the truth.
“Unfortunately”, Ted says, “each attorney also holds a stick [representing] obstruction, falsehood, lies, ambiguity, trickery, confusion, deceit, dishonesty, deception, or possibly perjury.”
When the balloon comes down, the lawyer threatened by the truth uses his stick to push it back up, and the judge or jury cannot make a proper decision.
Ted’s conclusion: get rid of the sticks, i.e. the adversary system.
Shock! Beak searches for justice
Former Justice Ken Crispin is partly known to fame for his ruling on diminished responsibility in the Anu Singh-Joe Cinque case (this column February 7, 2005).
Mr Crispin has now embarked on a commendable enterprise, The Quest for Justice ($35, Scribe, 2010).
Mr Crispin is sound on the need to de-criminalise drugs, but sadly seems to think the system’s basic objective is truth. He says (p. 73):
“The quest for truth has often been advanced as the fundamental objective of the adversary system.”
He even quotes the dread Lord Eldon (seen here) to that effect.
It is also hard to take seriously a book on the law which has no index.
Where is that lorry when you need it?
The question remains: if Ben Barton and Ted Kubicek can see we have a dud system, why cannot Tom Bingham and Ken Crispin?
So long as you’re down …
Incredibly, Dr Bob Moles (LLB Hons Belfast, PhD Edinburgh) has resurrected six of my dead and buried books.
He tirelessly ripped out a couple of thousand pages scanned them into a section of his website.
Dr Moles also wrote the foreword to Our Corrupt Legal System: Why Everyone Is a Victim (Except Rich Criminals) ($35, Bookpal, 2010).
(I might say the simplest and cheapest way to get any book, including OCLS, seems to be from Book Depository who offer free shipping worldwide. The price varies with the exchange rate; OCLS was A$29.11 the last time I looked.)
I quite like OCLS’ history section (“Rollicking” – Fin Review.). It shows (what law schools don’t) how the two systems are the products of accidents of history:
* When our system began in the 12th century, judges were bent and lawyers were their bagmen. It went downhill from there.
* The inquisitorial system would still be rubbish except that, by a giant fluke in 1800, three of Bonaparte’s generals won the battle of Chicken Marengo.
Mr Quentin Dempster’s (pic) launch at Gleebooks on May 27 was properly balanced. Dr Moles did the business on perversions against the innocent; I did the bit about perversions in favour of the guilty.
It was also quite jolly. Dr Moles presented me with a bottle of Grant’s – “So long as you’re up, make mine a Grant’s” by way of belated recompense for something he saw while ripping up Amazing Scenes: Adventures of a Reptile of the Press (Fairfax, 1987).
Returning by bus from Aldershot to the Waldorf in London with the dear old Bandicoots in 1975, I offered the brave lads a sip from a half-bottle of Grant’s I had brought in case of snow.
Despite entreaty, the bottle did not come back. When the coach, Dave Brockhoff, stepped off the bus, the first part of his person that touched the pavement was his forehead.
Surveying the recumbent, and as I believed, guilty figure, I said unkindly:
“So long as you’re down, Brock, make mine a Grant’s.”
A gilded reptile
Breaking News: The Golden Age of Graham Perkin (Scribe, 2010) by Ben Hills, is not quite a snip at $59.95. I can’t say what Book Depository has it for; it was out of stock when I looked.
Edwin Graham Perkin (1929-1975), of Warracknabeal, joined The Age in 1949. He rose to news editor in 1963, assistant editor in 1964, and editor in 1966.
It was then as dreary and uninformative as any provincial bladder. Pig Iron Bob loved it.
An editor stands or falls on his judgment and the circulation of his organ.
Perkin (pic) was wrong on the Vietnam war; he was wrong about Malcolm Fraser’s grab for power by means other than the ballot box; he missed the hanging of Ronald Ryan; and he missed Dr Bert’s Wainer’s long campaign to show that bad abortion laws made bad cops.
On circulation, Perkin, an energetic copy editor, presided over a modest but useful increase, from 180,000 to 220,000, in 10 years.
By contrast, Stanley Cecil Chandler lifted Truth’s circulation from 220,000 to 400,000 in eight months from July 1966.
He did it by “telling the customers what is really going on” in Melbourne, a lot of insignificant details, and a fair amount of sex.
Mr Gideon Haigh, who trawled through back copies of Truth for his book on abortion and police corruption, The Racket (MUP, 2008), informed a seminar on Perkin’s golden age that Truth was a far better newspaper than The Age. Oh dear.
On the other hand, Perkin did not put Rupert Murdoch into London (and hence New York and hence Farks News), as Truth did.