The Olympic Judicial procedure vs. the non-Olympic one

We are in the midst of Sochi Olympics, enjoying the jaw-dropping spectacle of human achievement, courage, perseverance and grace.

In my favorite sport, figure skating, there is something else to witness: a lesson in judicial procedure.

All seemed well with judging figure skaters’ performance, until, twelve years ago, a strange and unthinkable thing  had happened: the judge was found to be, shall we say, “corrupt and malicious,” choosing to judge “for the Russian pair regardless of how the others performed.”

What happened next was fascinating. The press got indignant; and, lo and behold! The whole system of judging was changed, so that judges had to decide in accordance with actual facts, rather than their whim; they were forced not to see what did not happen on ice, and to see what did happen; in brief, they were forced to judge according to skater’s actual performance, according to the actual merits of the contestants, and not according to judges’ willful substitution of contestants’ input with judges’ own fabrications.

The non-Olympic judging – of a kind that happens routinely in our federal courts – proceeds along a very different path indeed. When federal judges act “maliciously and corruptly,” when they judge not the parties’ argument, but judges’ fantasies of what it ought to have been, no one cares; judges declared that they have the right to do so – for the greater public good.

Olympic skaters would surely be surprised that judicial cheating is good; and it is good to know that at least once in human history the outrage at judicial fraud worked, and that once in four years, somewhere in the world there is honest judging.

Olympics inspire us to achieve what seems impossible. The ultimate inspiration and lesson of the Olympics is this: justice has the power to prevail even over the judges.

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