Justice Soothsayer comments at RA 16 December 2006

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Justice Soothsayer
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Justice Soothsayer comments at RA 16 December 2006

Post by Justice Soothsayer »

I have a few things to say about our Commission.
First, thanks to Moon for working so hard on all of this. She has been just great!
We have no consensus to report to you.
Our result is that there is no agreement for for action - or inaction.
You can read the results of our poll, our deliberations in the transcripts, and the continuing forum debates.
So what are we to make of this brave experiment in representative democracy?
Some have criticized the commission vote as unrepresentative.
I suspect the same criticism – though from different quarters – would have occurred if the vote had a different outcome.
As I said at the commission meeting, the commission wasn’t intended to be a representative sample.
We have those every six months, we call them elections.
What this process was intended to do was to see if forum angst about the judiciary was substantial and required action.
I hoped, and I think the other RA members hoped, we would expand the conversation beyond the "usual suspects" of the forums.
To a limited extent, we did, as some people who only rarely write on the forums participated in the commission.
It has been the group of the people who "care the most" about the judiciary (pro and con with a few in the middle) certainly the group of people who have written about it the most, probably those who have thought about it the most.
So they are entitled to some respect, and cannot be easily dismissed as unrepresentative.
The commission vote, messy as it is, can hardly be viewed as a vote of confidence inthe judiciary as it stands today. It does not tell the RA what to do, though, and I think we will need quite a bit more time to identify the alternatives.
In fact, the commission view is probably representative of the RA as well.
If we took a vote in the RA today, we would probably have one vote in favor of repeal,
one vote in favor of no changes, and three votes in favor of making some changes.
And since it takes 4 members of the RA to favor a constitutional amendment, that leaves us short of enough for any changes at all.
So compromise is necessary.
As it probably should be.
Where do we go from here?
Oni said it best (and I am paraphrasing): the RA has to decide if the vision for the judiciary that Ashcroft is putting in motion is the kind of judiciary we want.
I think the answer is no – in part. Ashcroft deserves great praise for presenting us with his complete vision of a judicial system for the brave new world that is SL. I think that vision can be part of the framework for moving us forward, though now that I have seen in substantial detail how he intends to implement that vision, I can't agree with some important parts.
We the RA deserve a little blame for adopting most of Ashcroft's vision (with just a few changes around the edges) instead of using it as an example for all of us, collectively, to develop our own society’s vision of what our judicial system should be.
For instance, I think our judiciary should be far more multicultural than as is being implemented now, incorporating a wider variation about the role of law in our SL society. We could even create a sort of JAG corps - incorporating the wide variety of legal views of folks ranging from me, Ashcroft, Beathan, Oni, and even some nonlawyers, rotating assignments as judges and advocates.
I suggest that we discharge the commission, with our thanks for their great work in thinking really hard about these issues.
And that the RA work at developing our own vision - not Ashcroft’s, not Beathan’s, not anyone’s, but our own collective vision, of what we want our judicial system to be.
Meanwhile, Ash’s vision can get its great test (tempered by the simpler rules we wrote last week).
And we should consider a series of amendments - rather than a grand package – that will help us decide on the contours
I have more to say about the various issues that will be the agenda for that debate, but would like to hear from my fellow RA members about their opinions first.
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Justice Soothsayer comments at RA 16 December 2006

Post by michelmanen »

After reading these comments, I am afraid I agree with very little of the analysis provided, beyond the fact that the commission was deadlocked and that it should be disbanded. As to the writer's individual opinions as to what our judiciary system is for and how it should be structured in the future (or not), these are strictly the writer's individual opinons; they in no way represent my or indeed many other Commission members' views. I find it rather disturbing that the Co-Chair of the Commission has used this platform and his position to promote, in front of the RA, his own personal views. This could appropriately have been presented as the writer's own conclusions as an appendix to the Commission Report - but not in front of the RA, in his position as Co-Chair of the Commission, were partiality, bias and personal preferences should have played no role whatsoever. Overall, this Commission had proved to be nothing less than a total fiasco for our democratic institutions. Let us hope that we all have learned from this experience and that we will never again run a Commision in this ad hoc manner, at such breakneck speed, and obtain such flawed and therefore, irrelavant results.

My harsh comments on this Commission are not - and are not intended to be - a refllection on the hard work and dedication of the individual Commission members or the Co-Chairs of the Commission Chairs themselves, for whom I have the utmost respect - but rather a sever indictment of the puropse, process and (non-) results of an ill thought-out, rushed and confused operation whose results are not just irrelevant- but downright misleading.
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

Flawed commissions like these are a result of insufficient respect for stability, formality, planning, thoroughness, democratic legitimacy and governmental system design.
Ashcroft Burnham

Where reason fails, all hope is lost.
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

To reply to Justice's post, it appears from his comments that his opinion on matters have changed. I very, very much doubt that it has. Justice was always strongly opposed to the kind of judicial independence that I (and others such as Pat) strongly advocated as vital to fairness in the lead-up to the passage of the Judiciary Act. Justice also pushed for oversimplification then, although was rarely able to be specific, or muster precise and principled arguments against the arguments that I made for judicial independence, precision and detail. When the Judiciary Act passed, Justice, like I, compromised on a number of important aspects. I thought that he had done so in good faith, but it appears that he is very hasty to use the pressurings of a vocal minority (none of whom have changed thier opinions on matters of principle either) as a reason to gain more ground for what were always his own preferences on what ought to have been a firmly concluded compromise.
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Where reason fails, all hope is lost.
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