Reform the Judicial System
Reform the Judicial System

Importance of the Judicial System

The justice system provides the legislative framework within which we all operate. As such harm resulting from its poor performance is likely to be pervasive. There are grounds for believing the judicial system is performing poorly. If so, improving its performance is likely to be highly beneficial.

Nature of the Judicial System

Justice used to be determined by champions battling with sword and shield. Practitioners now battle with arcane rules of practice, procedure and precedent; often about keeping relevant information out of the court.  A priori, neither are ideal ways at getting to the truth. Letting all the evidence be presented and having the judge or an evidentiary expert explain why, say, murdering/raping or thieving multiple times before is not proof of their having done so now.

Indicators of poor performance

Outcomes of cases should be dependent on the facts and evidence, not the caliber of legal representative. Barristers charge thousands of dollars a day, suggesting the caliber of representation influences the result. I.e. guilty people with good representation are being found innocent and innocent people with poor representation ware being found guilty.

The cost of pursuing matters through the courts is too much for many people and organizations. Taking a simple disagreement to the Supreme Court can easily cost over $500,000. There is an element of chance in a court case and if costs are awarded against you, the potential cost of seeking justice can exceed $1,000,000. Many do not have that sort of money to risk. The cost of obtaining justice will distort decision making i.e. some are likely to provide poor goods/services knowing the prohibitive cost of justice will prevent their clients seeking redress.

Minimal changes to spur quality improvement

We could easily have regular publicly available tallies of the proportion of cases in which judges/courts decisions are overruled. The worst performing 5% or so of judges could undergo remedial legal training on a reduced salary. The Chief justice of the worst performing court in the land could be held up to ridicule (currently illegal). These simple measures will create incentives for improvements in the quality of their decisions.

Even something as simple as removing the legal constraint on bringing courts into disrepute could create pressure for improved performance.

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