"In the darkness of secrecy, sinister and evil in every shape shall have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity, there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial."
Jeremy Bentham, English Philosopher (1748-1832)
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
William Blackstone, C18th English Jurist
Some insightful quotations from the works of Charles Dickens (1812-1870) on impediments to the rule of law that, unfortunately, still apply to many legal systems today:
The one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings.” Bleak House
"Circumstances may accumulate so strongly even against an innocent man, that directed, sharpened, and pointed, they may slay him." The Mystery of Edwin Drood
"There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets." Nicholas Nickleby
“These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal profession, where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations filed, and numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for the torture and torment of His Majesty's liege subjects, and the comfort and emolument of the practitioners of the law.” The Pickwick Papers
Everyone should feel that the rule of law is part of his or her property
"It is extremely important that the rule of law no longer be perceived only as business for lawyers...It is something for every single person - from the rural people in the fields through the fisherman up to the MP's, the judges. Everyone should feel that the rule of law is part of his or her property." -Adama Dieng, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations
The principle of open justice
"[The principle of open justice] is a cardinal principle of our justice system. It underpins the rule of law and our liberal democracy. It is a principle which requires the courts to engage with the public." LORD NEUBERGER OF ABBOTSBURY, Master of the Rolls for England & Wales, Judicial Studies Board Annual Lecture 16th March, 2011
Why so much injustice?
"If you would like to know why there is so much injustice in this world, try rallying those prepared to fight it. Then you will understand." FRANK RICHARDSON, Founder of OpenTrial
Huge gulf between rhetoric and reality
"The rule of law in Thailand, Cambodia, and most of Asia is weak or non-existent: apart from a number of states and territories, across the continent there is a huge gulf between the rule of law rhetoric and reality. In Thailand, the police force is an organized crime gang. In Cambodia, judges are proxies for the ruling political party….That a judge may harbour political prejudice or apply the law unevenly are the smallest worries for an ordinary criminal defendant in Asia. More likely ones are: Will the police fabricate the evidence? Will the prosecutor bother to show up? Will the judge fall asleep? Will I be poisoned in prison? Will my case be completed within a decade?" AWZAR THI, a member of the Asian Human Rights Commission.
A great vermin - corruption
"Money, they say, is the root of all evil. The bench is definitely not the place to make money. A corrupt judge is, thus, a great vermin, the greatest curse ever to afflict any nation. The passing away of a great advocate does not pose such public danger as the appearance of a corrupt and/or weak judge on the bench for, in the latter instance, the public interest is bound to suffer, and justice....... is thus depreciated and mocked and debased. It is far better to have an intellectually average, but honest judge, than a legal genius who is a rogue. Nothing is as hateful as venal justice, justice that is auctioned, justice that goes to the highest bidder." JUSTICE CHUKWUDIFU OPUTA, Judicial Services Commission, Nigeria.
The verdict's in the sack
"Men won't do much for a shilling / For a pound they may be willing / For twenty pounds the verdict's in the sack." BERTOLT BRECHT - The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Few judicial systems work reasonably well
"While judicial systems are visibly present in most countries, those that work reasonably well are found in relatively few." ROBERT SHERWOOD University of California in Berkeley
No crueller tyranny
"There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." CHARLES DE MONTESQUIEU French politician and philosopher, 1689-1755
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
ANATOLE FRANCE, poet, journalist and novelist, 1844 - 1924
Grinding the poor and ruling the law
Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, writer and poet, 1730 - 1774
"Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through."
JONATHAN SWIFT, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric, 1667 - 1745
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