I was given a task to rewrite a RECORD OF CONVERSATION and create a MATTER FILE before compiling a SOLICITOR-CLIENT BILL OF COSTS FOR TAXATION. I was given a few unclear instructions and handed a thick publication titled NATIONAL COURT ACT CHAPTER 38.
No kidding folks! I get asked to do case briefings and edit write-ups. Anyway, I’m doing pro bono for someone who is being trained at the Legal Training Institute.
While trying to make sense of the case given I thought of how our Judiciary has being under attack recently. This is most unheard of in most civilized countries. In civilized countries commenting about decisions made by the Judiciary is a no-go-zone.
I suppose it was bound to happen. When you have mutterings from with-in the Judicial System you create a scenario where average Joe thinks he too can put his one-toea-two-toea comments in the media.
The Chief Justice or any officer of the Court has a duty to assist the Court in seeking Justice. The Common Law tradition which we have inherited from our Colonial masters is one steeped in a long and colourful history. It is a tradition that is today being used by many former British colonies.
Most civilized people would think it faux pas to call on the Chief Justice to resign. Furthermore, it is contempt of Court to criticize court decisions. There is a forum for criticizing any decision of the Court and it called the Appeals process.
It is not considered appropriate within the tradition of the Court that a Judge comment in the media about matters relating to the Judiciary. That is why the Chief Justice has maintained an honourable silence. Who then is going to defend the Judiciary then when all we get is one-sided opinions in the media regarding recent decisions?
Courts exist to objectively assess the facts and to rule for or against disputing parties based on the facts. That is the nature of the justice system. It is based on this dictum of Edmund Burk; “no man shall be judge unto his own cause.”
We need an independent judiciary supported by the people. For whereas the British and Australian Courts have the Sovereign as the Fountain of Justice, Papua New Guinean Courts have the people. That is why we don’t have Crown Prosecutors and Queens Counsels; we have Public Prosecutors and Public solicitors.
A friend once told me in the middle of a soccer match at Bisini; “there’s the truth according to me, the truth according to you and the truth according to the truth.” The Courts help us find the truth according to the truth and it is by the truth that we are either justified or condemned.
Your Honour, I rest my case!