The Press on Judging the Judges

May 11th, 2013 at 9:38 am by David Farrar


The new website developed by the inviting the public to “judge the judges” has attracted more alarmed comment than it warrants.

Critics of the site worry about its focus on individual judges and fret that it may encourage contemptuous or defamatory attacks on judges. These concerns are overwrought.

As it is set up at present, the site is relatively innocuous and to the extent that it gives greater publicity to judges’ decisions and sentencing notes may do some good. …

Instead, the site presents a number of criminal cases in which, in the opinion of the site’s organisers, judges have given either particularly lenient or particularly commendable sentences to offenders.

Along with the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s critique of the sentence, the site also presents a link to the Ministry of Justice website so readers can form their own opinions from what the judge has said in his or her judgment and sentencing notes.

Those readers who bother to follow the links and read those documents will gain as good an insight as possible into the many competing, and often irreconcilable, factors that judges must take into account in trying to produce a just result in the cases before them.

I agree that the links to the case notes are a useful service.

While the website itself may be an incentive to redneck, talkback-style instant outcry about the leniency of this or that sentence, by making the official documents more widely available it also provides some antidote to it.

The silliest argument against a site critiquing judges’ decisions is that judges cannot answer back. The response to that is that they do not need to – their judgments speak for themselves, which is why judgments should be promptly available.

If further publicity is needed to protect a judge from unfair criticism, the Ministry of Justice has a large enough PR department to see it is done and in extreme cases there is nothing to inhibit the Attorney-General or Minister of Justice from speaking.

It will be interesting to see how many more cases end up on the site.

4 Responses to “The Press on Judging the Judges”

  1. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    If the lame arsed infested with liberals mainstream media was doing its job, we probably wouldn’t need such a website such as Judging the Judges.

    The Press is just another weak as piss soft on crims Fairfax propaganda outlet. All its opinion comes from one side of the political spectrum only and this left wing bent is also reflected in its constant inability to report the news objectively.

    In short, it stinks, and I don’t care what it says on this or any issue.

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  2. Harriet (7,523 comments) says:

    This is good.

    My ‘sanctity of life’ arguement in support of the death penalty can be posted there on all cases where violence is a feature.

    As I believe, a large proportion of murder or manslaughter cases have been comitted by people who have previously been charged with assault.

    And assault as we know is ‘not just assault’ but rather, a CONCURRENT act OF fatal consequence!

    Keeping that ABSOLUTE TRUTH in mind, judges should not, where assualt is concerned, value life as anything less than it is: Life.

    To many judges say “this COULD HAVE lead to death” and then they don’t pass sentance as that being the case. In other words: judges value life less than they lead us to believe that they do.

    For the public to value life as they should, judges EQUALY have too. It’s that simple.

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  3. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    I agree RB. Every time I tried to comment on the port hills groper , my comments were deleted..They had written a propaganda piece for he and his family but he let them down by breaching bail soon after. No consequences of course. At least Judge Moran didn’t grant the lawyer her latest requests.

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  4. Mark (1,611 comments) says:

    Interest point Harriett but where do you draw the line. A couple of drunks hit each other in a pub. A punch to the head can lead to death so are you suggesting that these people are sentenced to lifetime incarceration on the sanctity of life argument. It is starting to sound like and eye for an eye type of Justice.

    Certainly the area of bail can be looked at but even here we need to be careful that we do not lose the presumption of innocence. Perhaps Bail should be the exception for those with previous convictions for violence as a starting point.

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