1 Introducing the problem
Corruption within the judiciary: causes and remedies
Mary Noel Pepys1
Corruption in a justice system distorts theproper role of the judge, which is to protect the civil liberties and rights of the citizen, and to ensure a fair trial by a competent and impartial court. It enables public officials and specialinterest groups engaged in corrupt practice to function with the confidence that their illicit acts will go unpunished, if exposed. In broad terms, corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for privategain. In the context of judicial
corruption, it relates to acts or omissions that constitute the use of public authority for the private benefit of court personnel, and results in the improper andunfair delivery of judicial decisions. Such acts and omissions include bribery, extortion, intimidation, influence peddling and the abuse of court procedures for personal gain.
In corruptjudiciaries, citizens are not afforded their democratic right of equal access to the courts, nor are they treated equally by the courts. The merits of the case and applicable law are not paramount in corruptjudiciaries, but rather the status of the parties and the benefit judges and court personnel derive from their decisions. A citizen’s economic level, political status and social background play adecisive role in the judicial decision-making process. In corrupt judiciaries, rich and well-connected citizens triumph over ordinary citizens, and governmental entities and business enterprises prevailover citizens.
While it would be foolhardy to assert that corruption is non-existent in certain judicial systems, it is fair to say that in some countries corruption is minimal, sporadic and the resultof individual, unethical behaviour. In such countries, the system in place supports the professionalism of the judiciary and protects the judge from untoward influence. Procedures make the justice...