August 25, 2012

Courts of law or logic?


What is it that prevails inside the courtroom – law or logic? Those of you who are vigorous endorsers of the oneness between the constructs of law and logic may read no further because this writing is founded on the premise that a law may or may not benefit from logic and that is exists/perishes despite logic.

Because, the task of judges to pronounce judgments would not halt if counsels are reluctant to cite the law or are incompetent to apply minds to reach logical conclusions. So is it that the responsibility is fairly on judges to satisfy the needs of the litigants? I am afraid some judges are no better than illogical counsels, and in the matter of citing laws, are even worse. In other words, sentences had been, could be and would be passed whether or not counsels use law or logic or neither. I ask this question in support of my assertion: almost every trial has a verdict but is it true that every verdict has components of law or logic or both? To rephrase my question, is there not a tiny possibility that a verdict delivered in the past or to be read in the future has neither of the two? Those of you who think in the negative may read no further.

Legal system of any country is not based entirely on logic or reason and it is not unusual to find laws that are unreasonable and yet followed or implemented. Nor is it surprising to see judges trying hard to find answers to ‘hard cases’ by the use of logic or reason. But for brevity’s sake let us presuppose the application of logic to a given set of legal principles in order to reach a deliverable verdict. So far as the legal principles are concerned, we always have interpretations from both sides. Likewise, the person who has a better story to tell will get some extra points on the factual front. But ultimately the case has to lean in favor of that person who has a more convincing interpretation of the law and a strategic narration of facts.

But what is important to a trial is not convincing interpretation of the law or strategic narration of facts but the search of truth. However, for judges it is important to rest a case purely on logic if the circumstances so demand because one of the two stories is definitely an exaggeration or is partially true. But again a logical conclusion may or may not be a true and fair one. Logic does not make something right that is otherwise wrong. Therefore, to use logic as a solution to best interpret the law is in fact (and at times) discouraging truth. And what relief can judgments provide if there is no element of truth in them. Can we say that judges read verdicts on the basis of stories that are partially true and may or may not be logical?