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COURTS AND JUDGES (FROM POLITICS OF THE JUDICIARY, 1978, BY J A G GRIFFITH - SEE NCJ-50093)

NCJ Number
50094
Author(s)
J A G GRIFFITH
Date Published
1978
Annotation
THE APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES IN ENGLAND, THEIR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL POSITION, AND THEIR EXTRAJUDICIAL ACTIVITY ARE DESCRIBED IN ORDER TO EVALUATE JUDICIAL INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICS.
Abstract
JUDGES MAKE COMMON LAW BY DECIDING CASES AND ALSO INTERPRET STATUTORY LAW. IT IS THIS CREATIVE FUNCTION THAT MAKES THEIR JOB IMPORTANT. APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES IS WHOLLY IN THE HANDS OF POLITICIANS INCLUDING THE LORD CHANCELLOR, A MEMBER OF THE CABINET, AND THE PRIME MINISTER WHO IS ADVISED BY THE LORD CHANCELLOR. THE EXTENT TO WHICH POLITICAL ALLEGIANCE INFLUENCES THE DECISIONS OF THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND THE PRIME MINISTER IN APPOINTING JUDGES IS DISCUSSED, AND SEVERAL HISTORICAL INCIDENTS ARE CITED AS EVIDENCE THAT POLITICAL ALLEGIANCE IS CONSIDERED. THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL POSITION OF JUDGES BETWEEN 1820 AND 1968 IS ANALYZED. IT IS FOUND THAT MOST JUDGES HAVE COME FROM UPPER OR UPPER MIDDLE CLASSES, HAVE BEEN EDUCATED AT OXFORD OR CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITIES, AND HAVE BEEN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 52 AND 53 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME OF APPOINTMENT. THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT POLITICAL PRESSURES DO INFLUENCE THE DECISION TO APPOINT A JUDGE. A NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF COURTS IN ENGLAND IS PROVIDED. JUDGES ARE FREQUENTLY CALLED UPON BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PRESIDE OVER COMMISSIONS, COMMITTEES, ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS AND OTHER POLITICAL EXTRALEGAL ACTIVITIES. A STUDY ANALYZING THE INCIDENCE OF THOSE WHO SERVE AS CHAIRMEN OF VARIOUS ROYAL COMMISSIONS AND DEPARTMENTAL COMMITTTEES INDICATES THAT JUDGES ARE OVERWHELMINGLY SELECTED TO HEAD THESE ACTIVICIES, PARTICULARLY THOSE CONCERNED WITH SUBSTANTIVE LAW OR LEGAL PROCEDURES. THREE EXAMPLES OF THE USE OF JUDICIARY IN POLITICS ARE ILLUSTRATED IN DISCUSSIONS OF THE CONTROL OF RESTRICTIVE PRACTICES, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, AND NORTHERN IRELAND. THE MOST SENIOR JUDGES SIT IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS AND MAY TAKE PART IN ITS LEGISLATIVE AND OTHER ACTIVITIES. AN EXAMINATION IS MADE OF THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS ON MATTERS OF TECHNICAL LAW AND SOCIAL QUESTIONS. (DAG)

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