'His Honour made the orders in respect of which there is now an alleged contravention. [The Respondent] was quite open in saying that she did not agree with His Honour's finding on that day.'
She said "It was just what he thought".'
- Judgment of His Honour Judge Bennett, Federal Magistrates Court of Australia - Family Law, in the case of B&B
Thankfully for our justice system and the maintenance of social order, unlike Ms B the great majority of people honours the decisions of judges. We take that obedience for granted.
Today, in hundreds of Australian courts, judges will say: 'Here is what I think.'
People will go to prison, be fined, lose a licence, their source of income, their homes, their children. The effects will ripple through families, businesses and communities. All because an unelected person in a robe on a chair behind a bench on a raised platform in a beige courtroom will decide: 'Here's what I think should happen'.
Some will not agree with the judge and choose to appeal the decision. In about 95% of those cases the appellate tribunal will decide: 'We agree with what he thought.'
Why is Ms B's dismissal of the judge based on it being 'just what he thought' and her defiance of his orders the exception? It can't all be explained by the deterrence of courts' enforcement powers.
Could it be because those affected by the judge's decision see, and often even participate in, the process leading up to it and witness that the judge:
- Is dispassionate,
- Applies rules,
- Relies on evidence,
- Is unbiased, and
- Allows both parties to be heard?
Could decision makers in other fields with far less consequences earn similar respect and compliance with their decisions if, instead of making decisions based on:
- I'm smarter than you.
- I was at the meeting and you weren't.
- I know someone who told me things.
- My job title has manager/leader/chief in it.
- A university gave me a degree.
- I've been on the payroll longer.
- I can sack you.
- Stepped Back
- Named the Issue
- Assessed the information
- Checked for Bias
- Allowed for a hearing
Could it be that the lack of engagement, hundreds of billions of dollars spent on compliance, low productivity and unhappiness in our workplaces are because so many of us who are affected by decision makers can't see or understand how those decisions are made? Are we just like Ms B? -
Meh. That's just what the boss thought.