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Masked Judges

An Alternative to Wigs for UK Judges and Barristers
  (+5, -2)
(+5, -2)
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Modernatisation is blowing through the judicary and most people feel that judges and barristers should abandon the traditonal wigs that they wear. However people have put the case that wearing the wig and costumes makes it harder for people to recognise them and take revenge.

So I feel we should go the whole hog and issue judges and barristers with masks and superhero costumes so they can maintain secret identities. Court clerks could also hold up "Zap", "Pow" and "Bof" signs when the judge is sentencing but this part is strictly optional.

Aristotle, Jul 20 2001

Superhero and Supervillian Name Registration Office http://www.halfbake...gistration_20Office
They could register themselves here. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

The Spanish Inquisition http://nav.webring....b?ring=mrgumby&list
Otherwise known as the terror of all Spain. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Judge Dredd http://www.geocitie...foz.geo/jd/joe.html
Old Stoney Face himself. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Professional Masks http://www.halfbake...rofessional_20masks
A generalization of this idea [baf, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Congresswoman Waters calls for the immediate release of Lori Berenson http://www.house.gov/waters/pr001122.htm
A press statement from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Mentions the masked judges, a routine feature in Peruvian counterterrorism trials. Long on moral indignation, but more impartial than other web sites dealing with masked judges in Peru. [Uncle Nutsy, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Call for Wigs and 18th Century Costumes to go http://news.bbc.co....d_211000/211654.stm
Contains an explanation of why they wear wigs. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

History of Judges's Wigs http://news.bbc.co....d_213000/213250.stm
Apparently they were the height of fashion. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Notes from a House of Commons Committee http://www.parliame...ff/629-i/629i08.htm
Contains a mention of the anomynity factor. [Aristotle, Jul 20 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       Does the acused have to put on a supervillian suit if he is found guilty?
RobertKidney, Jul 20 2001

       This could be amusing too. A recent UK court case could have had the "Blue Bowman" in the dock.
Aristotle, Jul 20 2001

       Judge Dredd?
Guy Fox, Jul 20 2001

       I thought this was also still done at, say, Mafia trials in Sicily and drug cartel trials in South America?
beauxeault, Jul 20 2001

       As we are talking about replacements for existing costumes then each of those 3 suggestions could be a possibility. The idea of a judge in a 2000AD Judge costume asking "Who is Pele?" would be classic.
Aristotle, Jul 20 2001

       Part of the problem is that the current costumes point to a past culture to the point now that the costumes have no meaning beyond being period dress. Replacing them with something that preserves their anominity is apparently what judges want. As a half-baker I want something refreshing absurd, of course.   

       UK litigants have refered to their alleged use of a "sword of truth" before and substituting a "light sabre of truth" for this might work ...
Aristotle, Jul 23 2001

       [Aristotle] I'm sure contempt of court charges would decline if they dressed up every judge as a Wookiee...
MrWrong, Jul 23 2001

       This would be classic. However spending too long in makeup and only be able to offer instructions to the jury using inarticulate but expressive roars and whimpers could be a limitation.   

       On the other hand the superhero metaphor allows for long monologues, discussions of morality and confrontations between adversaries.
Aristotle, Jul 23 2001

       Kosh from Babylon 5 would make a good judge identity. Every time someone wanted to cross-examine a witness, he could say "Do you have... QUESTIONS?"
baf, Jul 23 2001

       Baked in some trials, as beauxeault notes- not so much for organized crime as for terrorism. See link.
Uncle Nutsy, Jul 23 2001

       Kosh would be a very bad judge since he never makes any sense... the only phrase that actualy made sense was "if you go to zha'dun(sp?) you will die" still it could be an interesting version of the death sentance...
RobertKidney, Jul 23 2001

       Actually they wear wigs to look dignified (see link). The wigs themselves also give a level of anominity at the moment. Judges talk about people they have judged not noticing them on the street without their wigs on, much to their relief.   

       So this changes the format of the "mask", opting for humility instead. Unlike the Peruvian judges they would have a consistent judical name, albeit a fake registered one.
Aristotle, Jul 24 2001

       Men and women of the jury, however, do not actively seek the power to pass judgment. Should they then be subject to—or fearful of—the same degree of pain, hatred and danger in voting their conscience?
The Military, Jul 24 2001

       According to another article by the BBC (see link) the current costume of a judge was based on the fashions of the day in the 17th and 18th century when wigs were popular. The current costume of the Lord Chancellor (the polical/legal role in the UK government) was apparently even set by a dandy. So dressing them in shellsuits, excessive gold jewelry, shades and backwards baseball caps would just as fitting because those items of clothing have been popular in the 2Oth century!   

       The reasons that people apparently don't recognise judges is because the clothes are so anachronistic and different to everyday clothes. (see link)
Aristotle, Jul 24 2001

       The costumes don't have to be daft (and they are extremely daft) in order to avoid being recognised. Several times I've had people I know from work say "hello" to me in the street and it's taken me a while to recognise them outside of their normal context (i.e. different clothes, different location etc).

I agree with Mephista's point on anonymity. After all, policemen, prison officers et al get no special protection. Why should judges? Especially as they spend most of their time living in big houses in the country, well away from any casual attackers.

Having said all that, I'm in favour of making them (and anyone else in a position of power) look as ludicrous as possible. Just adding fishnet stockings and stilletto heels to their current get up should do the job nicely.
DrBob, Jul 24 2001

       Whether it's judge or jury, I'd rather not be tried by a bunch of people hiding behind masks; that's way too reminiscent of KKK lynch mobs. If the priority were to keep the judge and jury completely safe from reprisals, we might as well go the whole hog and have trials conducted with the defendant blindfolded, or screened off from those conducting the trial; the prosecutor and many others must also be at risk. Perhaps these masks should all be in the shape of kangaroo faces?   

       But maybe I've just seen too many episodes of The Prisoner.
Guy Fox, Jul 24 2001

       In which case you will know all about the symbolism of the gorilla mask in the final episode of the Prisoner.
Aristotle, Jul 24 2001

       [Aristotle], I'd never claim to *know* *all* about *the* symbolism of the gorilla mask, never mind any of the other weird shit that came from Patrick McGoohan's lunatic genius of a mind, but never let it be said that I'm not up for a challenge, so:   

       I always thought it was:
Authority (Number One) = Brutality (Gorilla)
Brutality (Gorilla) = Individualism (Number Six)

       i.e. a play on the alternative meaning of "Number One" - as in "looking after..." - neatly inverting the driving theme of the Individual in conflict with Society which runs through the whole series, by laying responsibility and "control" back onto the individual(s) who create that society. Number Six is revealed as Number One because we are all Number One in our most primal (or should that be primate?) human natures.   

Guy Fox, Jul 24 2001

       I have to agree that it was about layers of identity although many different interpretation can be made from it. To me the sound of No 6's door when he arrived back at his old flat was very telling.   

       At the moment the identity of the judges is masked by the wigs (see the Commons Committee link) and formalising this masking and changing the costume could be beneficial in conjunction with the means for a proper judicial review that would allow a Judge's secret identity to be revealed. In some cases the defendent should be masked as well (to deal with the cases where publicaly accussing an innocent person of a particular crime is unthinkable) with a unmasking on being proven guilty.   

       Obviously there would need to be a chance for the convicted person to say something about "meddling kids" or to declare that "the world has seen the last of me"!
Aristotle, Jul 25 2001

       Ah, of course. Jeffrey Archer turns out to be the caretaker of the abandoned, "haunted" theme park on the edge of town. It explains everything.
Guy Fox, Jul 25 2001


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