Street Justice

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2018-03-07T16:18:40+00:00Wed, 7th Mar '18, 16:16|0 Comments

I’m not a caveman. I do not want to give the impression that I think wives allow themselves to be used as mouthpieces by their husbands. Anyone who knows my wife knows that is one primordial macho prejudice I most definitely cannot have.

But read through this Facebook chat started by Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi and eventually involving Judge Giovanni Grixti’s partner Yanika Bugeja.

The context is the story from yesterday about two lawyers recommended by four judges to be approved as licensed advocates in spite of a criminal record that technically should disqualify them. When the recommendation was made the Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri objected to their findings. The gist of the Facebook argument below is that if the Chief Justice was not going to rely on the judges to make the right choice, he should have gone through the trouble of conducting the vetting process himself.

What I want to point out here is the Facebook chatter itself rather than the specific content. One rarely hopes to find anything actually useful in Facebook chit-chat.

Two spouses of judges go into a very public water-cooler bash of their husbands’ boss. It would be unseemly for judges to publicly complain about the Chief Justice’s decisions. But whether because they were put up to it by their husbands – which I do not presume – or because they were speaking their mind, Marlene Mizzi and Yanika Bugeja did not find it unseemly to publicly complain about decisions taken by the Chief Justice.

This is not right. We used to rely on the judiciary to keep its dignity when every other institution of the country loses it. Although any organisation will have internal politics, this banal necking of vultures feasting prematurely on the Chief Justice’s retirement is frankly shocking. And the partisan motivations in the discourse, given that the main thrust of the complaint is about how a decision of the Chief Justice might make the government look bad, is worrying indeed.

It feels as if Facebook has broken down even the basic taboo of an administration of justice that averts its eyes from the interests outside the court room; a justice deliberated inside the judge’s chamber permitting only the reasoned decision to emerge in the public domain.

We have instead the administration of justice chatted about on Facebook by people so close to it that they quite literally share a bed with it, as if it was a discussion on some political activity or Sunday’s football fixtures.

It is not just Simon Busuttil who must wonder whether he can possibly get justice in a circus like this. The rest of us need to, from time to time, seek justice from a court we rely on to be impartial with its chin well above the slime and the mud of everyday politics.

See this and despair.