Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 22

Christmas Day is but a few days away… but as I have never been good at deferred gratification and can see aboslutely no reason to wait, or, indeed, in having several Christmas days…. I have started.  I wish you a good Christmas and New Year….

Lord Judge’s interventions in politics have not overstepped the line

If the lord chief justice is a thorn in the government’s side, it is one of parliament’s making

I particularly enjoyed this thought provoking piece from Joshua Rozenberg… I quote a few paragraphs to entice you into reading the rest of it…

Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that Lord Judge, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, had gone too far last week, overstepping the invisible line that separates the judicial from the injudicious.

There he was, introducing his annual report on criminal appeals and complaining about the “continuing burden of comprehending and applying impenetrable legislation, primarily but not exclusively in relation to sentencing”.

And there he was again, giving evidence to the Lords constitution committee about the “extraordinary” effect of the government’s public bodies bill, which gives ministers so-called Henry VIII powers to modify, merge or abolish a huge range of quangos. His concern that an “astonishing” number of acts now allowed ministers to repeal primary legislation will come as no surprise to the lord chancellor: Judge said as much to Ken Clarke at the judges’ dinner in the summer.

But what really worries Judge is the threat posed by the public bodies bill to the independence of the judiciary.

4 thoughts on “Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 22

  1. Far be it for me to disagree with one whose profession is the law, but…….

    In respect of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Sentencing Council -why are they needed? Do we not have an Appeals procedure within our legal system?

    The Parole Board – yes, a case can be made for their existence – no disagreement there.

    The Judicial Appointments Commission – why cannot judges be elected, from an aproved panel? If power is to be devolved to the people, then why can the people not have the level of law & order they wish and have judges of their choice who would sentence accordingly, thus upholding the laws the people wanted? Does it matter if the law differs local area to local area? It does to a certain extent in the States and seems to work perfectly well over there.

    Further question: is not the judiciary becoming too powerful and thus making law, especially when considering the effect that the ECHR and ECJ has on our judicial process?

    Just asking, you understand, from a layman’s aspect.

  2. 1 elected judges … noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! america here we come. and which body comes up with the ‘approved panel’?

    the last thing society needs is judges who feel they need to sentence the way the electorate want them to. try replacing the words ‘judges’ with ‘surgeons’ and ‘sentence’ with ‘operate’.

    2 ‘ Does it matter if the law differs local area to local area?’

    yes – essential part of rule of law is that the law be predictable, consistent and the like.

    3 ‘ is not the judiciary becoming too powerful and thus making law, especially when considering the effect that the ECHR and ECJ has on our judicial process?’

    no – the biggest judicial intervention is currently struggling against european case law quite possibly in an attempt to implement the law as enacted by the english parliament.

    just a bit of perspective. i have no idea the combined budget of the things you want to see gone but we apparently spend £38 each a year on legal aid. how much do you spoend a month on your mobiule phone? how much does rupert murdreck want to earn from each person in the uk for his tv? (answer £800-1000 pa).

    many savings should be made in the legal system – belling the cat is working out quite what they are.

  3. CharonQC – thanks for the great blogging throughout 2010. Here’s to a great Christmas and New Year !!

    The Lord Chief Justice is now the Head of the Judiciary in England and Wales. If the LCJ cannot speak out then probably nobody in the judiciary can. I am delighted with his interventions. Without them the over-mighty executive will get away with almost anything.

    Personally, I would have preferred the LCJ to take a stronger line with regard to the destruction of local justice which we are now witnessing. In an article “Murder on the Court Floor” the Solicitor’s Journal has said:

    “… if you really want to talk conspiracy theories, one train of thought is that the closure of the 93 magistrates’ courts is a barely disguised attempt at curbing magistrates’ justice, which some in government regard as inefficient, slow and costly – an interesting take on community justice when, on the sentencing side, Ken Clarke is pushing for community sentencing as an alternative to prison.”

    An interesting New Year awaits …..!

  4. @simplywondered:

    1. elected judges/approved panel: If politicians can put themselves up for election, why not judges? The difference is?

    2. It will be predictable and consistent in each area. If area A wants zero tolerance to crime and area B doesnt – what is the problem? Those in area A who disagree will move to area B and vice versa. Simples. Afterthought: it would help if our governments could be predictable and consistent – but they arent.

    That same aspect of choice refers to education and health – both should be under total control of local authorities and should also be directly answerabe to those that use them.

    3. Judges do make law – witness the May problem of late in the HoC.

    Your turn……………..

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