Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Account of Some Instances of the Practice of Former Times in Order to the Improvement of Justice and Safeguard of the Constitution

A dear colleague of mine has brought an interesting book to my attention: “An Account of fome Inftances of the Practice of Former Times in Order to the Improvement of Juftice and Safeguard of the Conftitution”. A copy of the 50 page book can be downloaded here.

Printed in 1716, the book starts with a description of how King Alfred (ruled 871-899) hanged 44 judges in one year for violating his law that decreed that judges who entered: “a morally falfe judgement, they be hang’d as any other murderers.”

Detailed descriptions of the hanging of judges by Edward the First and Edward the Third follow and the other punishments of Judges by Kings, Queens and Parliament. Perhaps the most effective deterrent was devised by a Persian King who had a corrupt judge put to death and made into pillow. He then ordered that the dead judge’s successor be ordered to sit on the pillow while on the bench. That is an effective inducement to a judge to be fair and impartial!

What all this really says is that the problems with judges go back to the beginning of our justice system and that we must – as ever generation before us has – be vigilant to the harm and misfortune that judges issuing “morally falfe judgement” can have on each of us. To that end, the idea of judicial immunity must be discarded so that judges can be held accountable for their actions.


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