Elements of a Fair Judicial System

Audio CD
A talk by Daniel Greenberg

"The root problem of forming any social community is the inherent tension between the individual – the desire of an individual to realize his/her personal life goals – and the need to compromise some of that individuality in order to fulfill the social instincts of the human species. The nature of the compromise manifests itself in the existence of some sort of group of rules that govern the behavior of the individuals in the community. What goes on inside you – your dreams, thoughts and aspirations – do not affect the rest of the group; it’s how you behave within the group that constitutes the subject-matter of the rules. And as soon as you have a set of rules set up in a community, you have the immediate problem of what to do when the rules are breached. Its judicial procedure is a community’s way of dealing with breaches of the rules that have been set up in order to deal with actions that derive from the tension between the individual’s desires and the community’s needs. Every social order, no matter how primitive, has some judicial procedure.

"The heart of any community is the way it has figured out what to do when the rules made to deal with the tension between group and individual are breached. A group that hasn’t figured this out isn’t viable, because the one thing that you know that’s going to happen is that at least some of the rules will be breached.

"The critical importance of the judicial procedure is something that people realize instinctively. For example, in the school, we often hear it said that ‘the Judicial Committee (JC) is the heart of the school.’ This is probably why a lot of students like to observe the JC. The fact that the JC is open allows children of all ages to come in and out. They sense that it’s something they want to keep an eye on, that they want to reassure themselves about. During the course of the year, the most amazing configuration of people of all ages float in and out, not only people involved in the complaints being processed. They sense the centrality of the JC."