White judges and wigs

I’m not sure about today’s Guardian scoop about the lack of diversity in our High Court judges. This blogger notes that the newly anointed judges, as well as being hideously white, male, and privately educated, are also fairly old. The average age of the ten men pictured is 57. Since a long and distinguished legal career is a prerequisite for such posts, it is to be expected that those rising to the bench’s lofty heights now, are those who were educated a generation ago, where the elite public-school-to-Oxbridge route still had a lock on the system. I don’t see how the Judicial Appointments Commission, which was only established in 2006, could succeed in fostering a more diverse bench in just two years, without a rather heafty dose of affirmative action.

In the Guardian‘s photos, the judges are all also bewigged. Wigs and gowns, we are told, are an important badge of office. They serve to focus the mind of lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants on the office and not the person, the process not the personality. So, if diversity in the judiciary is a problem, I have a recommendation. Instead of modernising judges’ attire so they look more like civilians, why not expand the wigs to cover the front of the honourable judge’s face as well? Two peep-holes could be cut through the horse-hair so m’lud could see the trial, but everyone else present would see nothing but a big white perm. Then we wouldn’t know whether the judge was black, white, or brown. And furthermore, the muffled tones that came from beneath the full-face wig during a ruling would probably stop us from sexing the creature too.