Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Panto Lifestyle" of Judges

An article in today's Indo quotes Fine Gael's Derek Keating as asking Mr Shatter to "get rid of the wigs, gowns and tipstaff from a bygone day" and stating "we cannot afford the panto lifestyle of our senior judges."
The article also shines light on some of the perks of judicial office:
Circuit, High and Supreme Court judges still enjoy the services of tipstaffs to tend to their every need (they are paid assistants who perform backroom tasks such as admin and paper shuffling and introduce the judge to the court) and they collect their own €30,000-a-year booty.
Judges also benefit from a substantial array of expenses, ranging from allowances for wigs of €2,195 and €745 a year to buy 18th century-style 'frock coats'. They also enjoy 36 days paid holidays a year.

Isn't it time to get rid of these trappings of a colonial past? This is about much more than the expenditure involved. What is the purpose of a wig and frock coat? Aside from the discomfort caused by wearing these things, a legal system that looks out of touch with the modern world is not likely to receive much public support (it is hard enough for lawyers to be liked even without these accoutrements - just ask attorneys in the US!).