An 1861 complaint about the Court's impartiality

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1861 Complaint
about Court impartiality

In the 1850s J Binet, formerly director of Jersey's General Hospital, pursued a lengthy legal action against the States following his dismissal from that position. In 1861 he wrote a letter to the Jersey Independent complaining about the lack of impartiality in the judicial process

Legislators, administrators and judges

Tuesday 1 January 1861

Sir.-Yielding to the pressing solicitations of my family, I have abandoned the idea of carrying my lawsuit with the States of Jersey before HM in Council, although my Petition and Doleance, with the requisite papers, had been prepared and logged for that purpose in the hands of an eminent Solicitor in London, who had engaged to carry on the proceedings before that high Tribunal.

The compensation awarded by the Full Court as an equivalent for the illegal and arbitrary dismissal by the States from my situation as Director of the General Hospital was not sufficient to cover the expenses to which I had been exposed during a lawsuit of 5 years duration. Such a compensation is only a mockery of Justice.

Having lately received the indemnity granted, all future legal proceedings are at an end, still I publicly protest against the unjust treatment I have experienced from men invested with the treble functions of Legislators, Administrators and Judges.

A detailed statement of the present case has been duly sent to the Royal Commissioners. If that statement does ot appear in the Appendix of their Report, I propose to have my statement printed, and to have it sent to each member of the House of Commons. Very few will take the trouble to look into the voluminous reports of the Royal Commissioners, but if a small pamphlet relative to the operation of Justice in Jersey, with a few facts as illustrations, such as the case of nine years standing, etc, etc was put into the hands of each individual member before the meeting of the House, it would, I presume, in many cases be read, and some interest might be created when the affairs of Jersey are brought under discussion.

I beg here to state that the following reasons appeared in my Petition and Doleance why I found it impossible to obtain satisfactory redress from our Royal Court.

  • By reason of my action being necessarily brought against the President of the States, who was also at the same time Bailiff, or Chief Magistrate of the Royal Court
  • By reason of the defendant in my action being necessarily the President of the States as well as the Bailiff, or presiding Judge, over the Court before which such action was to be tried
  • By reason of the Jurats of the Royal Court being allowed to sit in the Assembly of the States
  • By reason of the loose and slovenly, as well as the dilatory, mode in which that Assembly, as also the Royal Court, carried out its business
  • By reason of the Jurats of the Royal Court having seats in the States and being allowed also to act in Committees appointed for conducting the public Institutions of the Island
  • By reason of the Jurats occupying such a variety of public positions they are frequently (as in my case) involved in Actions necessarily brought before the Royal Court, in which they themselves adjudicate
  • By reason of those very Jurats being allowed to sit on the Bench, and hear and determine actions, in which they individually, if not collectively, are often the principals, or, at all events, materially interested parties.

J Binet, snr

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