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Thread: What is judicial independence?

  1. #1
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    Default What is judicial independence?

    The events of the last week re the Whelan appointment again raise the question of the (so-called?) independence of the judiciary.

    What exactly is it? Nobody actually can believe that judges are "independent" in the sense that they are appointed by some "independent methodology" where their experience, previous work, training, etc., fits them for appointment. Nobody believes that the procedure is independent of political connection. So, what is it?

    Yes, when appointed, judges are supposed to deal with decisions in an independent manner. Since the majority of their decisions are applications of the law, they are not political per se.

    However, there is some sort of fiction that once appointed their job suddenly becomes part of some sort of cloud where their qualifications, experience, etc., are above remark.

    Is there any methodology by which a judge's track record is assessed, not just in terms of independence, but in terms of their actual job performance? If not how is their independence checked?

    The Chief Justice is quick to react to any implication that the role of "the judiciary" is being questioned, why? Is he/she worried that anything they do or say is being questioned?

    Lastly, how do you move, via the stroke of a pen, from political appointment, Attorney General, to a judge of the Appeal Court without any connection between the roles?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Quote Originally Posted by barrym View Post
    The events of the last week re the Whelan appointment again raise the question of the (so-called?) independence of the judiciary.

    What exactly is it? Nobody actually can believe that judges are "independent" in the sense that they are appointed by some "independent methodology" where their experience, previous work, training, etc., fits them for appointment. Nobody believes that the procedure is independent of political connection. So, what is it?

    Yes, when appointed, judges are supposed to deal with decisions in an independent manner. Since the majority of their decisions are applications of the law, they are not political per se.

    However, there is some sort of fiction that once appointed their job suddenly becomes part of some sort of cloud where their qualifications, experience, etc., are above remark.

    Is there any methodology by which a judge's track record is assessed, not just in terms of independence, but in terms of their actual job performance? If not how is their independence checked?

    The Chief Justice is quick to react to any implication that the role of "the judiciary" is being questioned, why? Is he/she worried that anything they do or say is being questioned?

    Lastly, how do you move, via the stroke of a pen, from political appointment, Attorney General, to a judge of the Appeal Court without any connection between the roles?
    I assume the former AG could and should recuse herself from handling any case that she had assessed as AG ?

    Judges do step back from cases at their own discretion frequently. I'm not sure if any outside body or person can require them to, and can think of some cases where the conflict of interest was obvious, but the cases went ahead.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    As I suspected, judicial independence means you are not measured or assessed. Typical old boys and girls club.

    Tricky, we need to avoid interference, but it can only work properly if there is a transparent process of recruitment, and at least a public record of their decisions. It might be possible by analysing the results but that requires a comprehensive and continuous scanning of the results.

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Quote Originally Posted by barrym View Post
    As I suspected, judicial independence means you are not measured or assessed. Typical old boys and girls club.

    Tricky, we need to avoid interference, but it can only work properly if there is a transparent process of recruitment, and at least a public record of their decisions. It might be possible by analysing the results but that requires a comprehensive and continuous scanning of the results.
    It's a perfect reflection of the hidden way the population of the country is managed.

    Things are never what they seem. Sometimes the judges demonstrate their independence on such things as the McKenna judgement and then when the very important to the insiders club events are in the Judges ballpark things like the Seannie trial collapse occur or events such as the Slab Verdict pop up with remarkably good timing for the string pullers.

    It's the same with the media, they'll investigate to a suitable extent but never too the extent that could endanger their masters.

    Guards losing documents etc, mistakes are said to be made which no one is responsible for so there is no responsibility. We have tribunals that soak up public pressure and allow for deflection from any potential legal consequences.

    This country is a masterclass in the ways of the unseen hands of manipulation.

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Quite, well said and analysed.

    Items from yesterday reflect it well -

    Placed item from Conor Gallagher under the rubric "analysis" in the IT, reporting that there is no bias in judicial decisions. As I pointed out in the OP, most decisions are points of law, very few are points of principle, even fewer are political, per se. That is not the point at issue. The consistent rant by the judiciary about "interference" ensures that consistency of sentencing is not assessed,for example. Yesterday there was a news item about a judge ranting on about Joe Duffy, again, complaining about sentencing.... Joe Duffy the conscience of Ireland, no less.

    But the best one, imo, is the report about not telling drivers to bring their driving license to court, you could not make it up, or in fact it is made up, by a combination of inertia, incompetence and deliberate obfuscation. In 2015 it transpired that the wording of summonses was deficient, the drivers rights were upheld by them not being told..... So, change the wording of summonses. Simple, a few words, sent to the website for downloading by Guards....? OK? No, still not done. New rules introduced in 2016 require judges to ask for the license, but the wording isn't there.....

    Conspiracy theory goes like this - judges, court clerks, et al don't ask, "ah sure...." Personnel in the Dept of Justice don't bother to change the wording.... So, judges cannot ask cos the driver was not told.....

    Judges exercise judicial independence, instead of kicking ass in the Dept......

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    "unprecedented letter" from their majesties....

    While I hold no brief for the lord of churchtown, some scrutiny of appointments is a good thing.

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    If I may be permitted...

    The Jobstown verdict is an example of a politically driven prosecution, costing us, the taxpayers, millions. If the barristers had not insisted on getting the judge back into court to change her charge to the jury, removing the totally wrong suggestion that the accused could get life..... They might have been convicted.

    The whole affair was a political rigup, bizarrely, by FG in favour of a political enemy they had organised, with their own political connivance mind you, to eliminate from the field.

    I perfect example of judicial independence hoisted by their own petard.

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Quote Originally Posted by barrym View Post
    If I may be permitted...

    The Jobstown verdict is an example of a politically driven prosecution, costing us, the taxpayers, millions. If the barristers had not insisted on getting the judge back into court to change her charge to the jury, removing the totally wrong suggestion that the accused could get life..... They might have been convicted.

    The whole affair was a political rigup, bizarrely, by FG in favour of a political enemy they had organised, with their own political connivance mind you, to eliminate from the field.

    I perfect example of judicial independence hoisted by their own petard.
    Not entirely sure if I'd agree with this take, tbh.
    "If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or fascist, you'll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn't think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. " - Jim Garrison, Former DA, New Orleans.

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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Quote Originally Posted by pluralist View Post
    Not entirely sure if I'd agree with this take, tbh.
    Interestingly, the meja seems a bit here and there on it too. There is a lot of comment on the bad language and vitriol directed at Joan Burton. To me that seems to have been due to some people's view that the Labour party ok'd or at least didn't seem to question the methodology of water charges. I don't think many commentators would disagree that Labour shot itself in the foot on a number of issues during the coalition, and we have seen the political consequences.

    OTOH, the Jobstown affair seemed to illustrate a further set of feelings about water, and bins,and probably other frustrations, fueled by a group of local pols and supported by, frankly, some rather nasty individuals.

    Was there an element of "teaching a lesson" in the essence of the DPP's approach? The Dail echoed the usual "separation of powers" rhetoric. But, one must consider the inevitable reaction of the pols when one of their own is affected. None of the pols would like to be holed up in a Garda car for hours under protection from a howling mob. Was the style of the prosecution appropriate? that is the question.

    Certainly the accused felt the accusations were over the top. Their legal team felt the judge's charge was OTT, she backed down.

    My point is that a trial about a public affray became politicised because the legal establishment felt enough was enough. The jury did not. Chalk one up for the jury, that bit of our legal system proved it's worth, I am not sure the legal establishment did, in this case.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Today's press, on reflection, raises several issues, questioning the whole procedure of the Jobstown affair.

    The DPP's justification of the charge sounds a little hollow, past the deadline for a lower level, kicking up a row, charge. There are hundreds of qualified lawyers in the Garda, they know the difference between a District Court affair and a jury trial. The accused were questioned in Feb 15, 4 months after Jobstown, but only charged in Nov 15.

    Call it conspiracy theory if you like, but are the DPP and the Garda independent of one another? Recent evidence of the way the Garda run things would make one wonder about their motivations. We had more of the "independence" guff in the Dail yesterday, to deny any enquiry, fair enough, no point in re-running it.

    Thinking about it, the accused must be happy they had a jury, a DJ might have been a lot more difficult, even biased??

    I know I am banging on, but the appointment of judge's stuff gives cause for thought. We may have forgotten Curtin and even O'Flaherty but, the inner workings of the law system and the closed shop and closed ranks, make it worthwhile to consider some safeguards?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What is judicial independence?

    Further questions, nominally about Jobstown, but raise the issues of independence, imo. Veradkar didn't make a slip of the tongue, he intended to say what he said.

    Today's IT asks the question about the same mistakes appearing in the evidence of several guards. Did the DPP people not notice that?

    Murphy continues to push for an inquiry, Martin & Adams criticise Veradkar, what is next?

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