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Sunday, 20 February 2011


As KiwisFirst points out, both directly in its discussion of the Bill Wilson affair and indirectly through the chronic corruption it exposes, we have in New Zealand a most unsatisfactory system for selecting and appointing judges--one that is essentially in the hands of a couple of people thinking mysterious things behind closed doors.

'Begin as you mean to go on' and 'The journey of a thousand kilometres begins with a single step' are wise sayings, and therefore if justice is truly to be seen to be done, and truly is to be administered fairly and impartially, the way in which judges are selected must be open not hidden, and must be absolutely impartial.

And those selected must only be those who are suitable, only people who have by rigorous testing have been proved to have the aptitude for the job and are free of serious psychological flaws that will prevent them from being perceptive and impartial. Honest upright people.

The only way of achieving all that is to change the system--fundamentally.

First, every lawyer on the register should be put through a series of psychometric tests. That will determine who has the aptitude to be a judge, and who should never be one.

Second, those who pass those tests should be put on a register of potential judges. Beside each name would be a number, randomly generated by a computer.

Third, whenever a vacancy arises, a computer program of the sort that produces lottery winners would randomly choose one number off that list. The person who had been assigned that number would be offered the vacancy--by the computer (so that no human could interfere in any way). If the fofer was refused the computer would select another name. And so on, until the vacancy was filled.

That process would be published on the Internet, again by the computer. The register would be there, all the offers would be there, all the refusals and acceptances would be there. Everthing would be open, everything would be absolutely random and impartial.

Then the chances would be extremely remote that we would have people in the judiciary who were twerps, toadies, liars, psychological misfits, pathological basket-cases or criminals under the skin. We would have only those well-suited to the task, chosen by an absolutely fair and impartial system, and therefore we would have a judiciary that would be most likely to be fair and impartial.

That system should be used for all parts of the judicial system: for the courts, for all the tribunals, etc. Every place where people must sit in judgement on people.

A random computer system should also be used to select which judges preside over a case. No human should be allowed to make the decision. Then cases could never be allocated to people with known view in order to skew the result that way.

Once people were appointed they should also be subject to checks and balances, not appointed for life. Any judge who has, say, 30% of his or her rulings overturned on appeal would be automatically demoted. So a Supreme Court judge who was in the minority 30% of the time would be demoted to the Court of Appeal; a Court of Appeal
judge would be demoted to the High Court; a High Court judge would be demoted to the District Court; and a District Court judge would be demoted back to solicitor (not barrister). That would keep them from becoming complacent and careless.

It should also be laid down in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act that everyone has the right to prosecute a judge for failing to afford us the rights in that Act. And that any judge found guilty would be immediately dismissed in serious cases or demoted in lesser ones. That judgement would be made by the Supreme Court.