Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ontario Judges And The Circus They Run

When I see a story like this, I have to shake my head.

The whole point of the mayor going to court was to determine whether the accusations were true or not.  The gravity of a courtroom should mean that if a person is not found guilty, then by default they must be innocent of those accusations.  

When you keep that in mind, you suddenly realise that what the Judges panel ruled here was this:
Innocent people must bear the cost of legal proceedings incurred in proving their innocence.

I would say that this staggers the imagination, but then again this was a panel of Ontario judges that did this, so I fully expect a cock-up of epic proportions because (Q.E.D.) that's largely what they do.

I've never kept it a secret in that I have no respect for them, but often people don't understand why.  So, here's why…

If I go for an operation, I expect the surgeon to be highly trained in the proceedings that they will follow during the operation.  If I travel by air, I expect the pilot to be highly trained in the aircraft that I am sitting in, the route that I am travelling, and the airport configuration where we are taking off and landing.  If I'm sitting in a court room during a technical case, I expect the judge to have professional experience in the things being discussed.

But that's not the case.  Here, the judges are learning about physics, medical issues, programming, biology, finances, and a whole host of other topics, whilst the cases are under way.  In other words, what is a court room to the public is a class room to the judge.  

Years ago, I had to testify in an expert capacity in a witness stand (in Toronto) regarding a .Net program and as expected, the judge didn't know the difference between a CLR and MIDL, or a server from a load balancer, but apparently to be a judge that judges, experience in what you're judging isn't a necessary qualification.  

From my 30 minutes in the stand, I got the impression that putting a baboon in that seat would have been just as productive in finding the truth of what happened.  I then followed the case until its conclusion, and I wasn't surprised when the judge ruled against the technical evidence.  When the defendants went to appeal, another panel of judges who had no more experience at technology than a newborn child then repeated the same mistake.

At that point, I realised that the courtrooms here are not actually about justice.  It's basically a dance of money and wit, and if someone's lawyers can paint a believable scenario that convinces a judge, then the judge will rule according to the story.  A knowledgable judge would have spotted the BS in front of him if he'd taken a look at the source code that was available for him to peruse.  Of course, this judge didn't look at the code because they weren't experienced in programming, even though somehow in his mind, being a non-programmer is perfectly fine to be a judge on programming cases.

In my mind, putting my grandma in the judges place would be a perfectly valid equivalent. 

Given the court rooms are not about justice, this is why I'm not surprised that the same judges now say that Mayor Ford needs to stump up $100,000 for costs incurred whilst one of their own determined that the same man is innocent.

The problem fixing this as I see it right now is if you complain about a judge, then they just put in another judge, but as the phrase goes, "You can shuffle the clowns but it won't change the circus".