Trust the Judges?

There’s an interesting story in today’s Independent (h/t Dana Denis Smith) which if you look closely at the graph shows trust in judges rising from a paltry 61% in 2008 to 70 in 2015.  Is the judiciary doing what few other occupations have managed, increasing trust in recent years? Perhaps, although in 2006 trust in judges ‘to tell the truth’ was at 77%. That’s still nearly a quarter who don’t trust judges to tell the truth, but let that pass for now. Interestingly, judges took a big hit to their trust rating in in the following two years: 2007 and 2008.  They’ve been gently clawing back lost ground since then. It would be interesting to speculate on the causes in 2007 and 2008, but as I struggle to remember last week, let alone eight years ago, I will resist.  It is, however, interesting to note from the graph that the occupations that had the most similarly precipitous fall during that period were mid and up-market journalists.

In a slightly different context it is interesting also to note the Policy Exchange’s project on judicial power.  Their laudable project aims to focus on, “the proper scope of the judicial power within the constitution”.  It’s a shame that, “Doubts about the wisdom of an expansive, adventurous understanding of judicial power have been, are and should be shared by people and groups who otherwise have very different political commitments” appear to have been pre-judged.  These are doubts I would be perfectly willing – already partly am – persuaded on.  Yet. in a moment of hyperbolic nonesense they claim:

the rise in judicial power within the United Kingdom has taken place without sustained public debate.

To which I can only gasp, Have you not been reading the papers for the last ten years? Perhaps their answer is, we have been reading the papers, but we do not trust them.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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3 Responses to Trust the Judges?

  1. Paul Magrath says:

    This is interesting. I wonder whether it is connected in any way to judges being less reluctant to speak out and defend themselves from criticism: I looked at this recently in my blog: http://www.iclr.co.uk/trappists-v-spinners-shaping-the-legal-discourse/
    Though this also draws fire from eg Daily Mail re “unelected judges” which in turn may explain the downturn in 2007-8?

  2. Pingback: Making the Case Against Expansive Judicial Power | Judicial Power Project

  3. Pingback: Making the Case Against Expansive Judicial Power | Policy Exchange

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