Monday, 13 May 2013
What about this Law Crap then??
English law is a byproduct of three basic origins, the first Feudal, the second Religious and the third the Voice of the People. It's fair to say the true birth of what I call English Law was the advent of the Magna Carta, a document that galvanised a feudal society and set about governance by the then Royal Family and later The Houses of Parliament. These laws were set in place and enacted by the likes of Sheriffs and later by Policemen. But in all this there was a lack of one set of players in the original equations, The Law Courts. Until the early 19th Century that is. This allowed folks to be defended and the maxim "innocent until proven guilty" arrived.
As we know, this gave the people a voice, something that had been missing in eons. But not only could they defend themselves with a voted government and the power to legislate for society, they could also influence which laws should be created and enacted. This changed English Society and as a consequence all societies that derived from the Motherland. That's the basic history. Now to the nitty gritty in the 21st century.
For many years now the judiciary have not so much been "above the law" but removed from the law. No not in criminal matters, but in commonsense matters that defy public opinion. My major gripe is threefold.
1. Bail settings. This needs a law change. At bail hearings all Judges should have at their disposal (and theirs only) someones criminal record so that they can reliably make the correct decision about who should and should not be let back into the public arena. I see this as an important step for both public safety and also for the sake of the perpetrator so he/she doesn't re-offend and require more court time and/or Jail time.
2. The Old Boy Network. Like the medical profession I believe Officers of the Court to be separate identities from normal society. Let's say a Judge gets it wrong, he may be held accountable by his peers, but faces no action in a court of law, that I know of. Let's say Judge A presides over a case where the sentence handed down falls short of public expectation. Now the defendant gets out early and re-offends, the only one that faces The Law is that same defendant. Is there any onus placed on the original sentencing Judge? Truly I don't know. I feel the law falls short in this respect that a) the defendant re-offends and b) the Judge doesn't face public scrutiny.
3. If our major lawmakers are voted in to write and rewrite laws, should not those that administer the law also face elective processes? I think Parliament as the voice of the people have the right to nominate Judges but there should also be a veto power for the general public. And with that Judges need to be elected and reelected over a time span (say 5 years) instead of being given the job for life. This way if Judges that do err on their decisions, the public can have their say when it comes time for reappointment (if that Judge is still appointed). This is the power of the people at work, aligned to the power to vote in governments. We need to keep the right people doing the right things and make sure the errant ones either become more accountable or in the least removed from their position of privilege.
Just a few thoughts to get you going. I'm sure there is more to say on this matter and I hope I spark soem lively debate.