Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

O.K. Enough cheer. Let's get back to grumbling.

WARNING: Boring post, unless you're a disgruntled lawyer. (And even then it may still be too boring for most.) It's my forum, so I get to raise one of my pet peeves: dishonest judges. I'm not talking dishonest as in graft or bribe taking. I'm talking the intellectual dishonesty of righteousness and favoritism. Not for the first time, I've just received an order from a court denying a petition. That wouldn't be so bad -- indeed, it's par for the course to lose at least a few petitions -- if it weren't for the fact that the Court essentially lied to achieve this outcome. I can't go into details here (confidentiality and all) but suffice to say that my facts were strong and the law completely supported my position. The court had the option of denying my petition without comment. However, for reasons that would need a psychiatrist to explain, the court felt compelled to cite case authority to justify its decision. Normally, this is all well and good, since our judicial system is based on precedent derived from case authority. What was irritating about this exercise was that the Court misstated the facts to justify the case on which it relied. Worse, a review of that case revealed that the case did not stand for the proposition asserted. That is, it didn't even support the court's incorrect statement of facts. This sounds like a random grumble (why so upset about one bad apple?), except for the fact that this pattern of judicial conduct happens over and over. As I noted at the start of this post, I acquit these judges of being corrupt in the traditional sense. This has nothing to do with acquiring money or power. It does, though, have a lot to do with holding power -- and holding power that is subject to minimal oversight. Many judges seem to confuse themselves with priests. That is, once they don their robes, just as the priest becomes a conduit between man and God, they feel as if they've become a conduit between the parties before them and some great, abstract truth. A ridiculous notion, of course, but how else can one explain the frequency with which judges take patently unethical steps to arrive at a desired outcome. One might say that, if a judge knows that one party is just plain bad, even though technically correct at law, the judge ought to exercise his power to protect the good guy in the situation. It sounds good in theory, but it's dreadful in fact. One judge's bad guy might be another judge's good guy. Instead of the majesty, weight and stability of hundreds of years of precedent, we have law that varies from courtroom to courtroom. Aside from being dreadfully unfair to the parties involved, it also undercuts social stability entirely, since people can no longer plan their conduct (especially their business conduct) to confirm with known legal rules.