The 'good judge' in Australian popular television culture

Cambridge University Press
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The judge, the judiciary and the court, 2021, pp. 283-306
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Despite the dominance of legal themes in popular culture, judges do not always make an appearance, and when they do, tend to be secondary and/or caricatures. Despite (or even because of) their relative absence and unimportance in popular culture, the portrayal of judges still gives insight into assumptions and values about the relationship of judges to the law and justice. This chapter explores two key themes in the portrayal of judges in the contemporary Australian television series such as Rake and Janet King and the classic Australian series SeaChange. The first is the portrayal of judges as marginal or secondary characters and the second is the desire expressed by characters for a ‘good judge’. Drawing upon the insights of the jurisprudence of American realists, this chapter interrogates the concept of a good judge in terms of authority, legitimacy and the relationship with law. How is the concept of the good (and of course the bad) constructed? There is also an interrelationship between the two themes: despite the desire for the good judge, the secondary role of judges in popular culture often reflects the tendency to regard the role of judges as primarily objective representatives of the institution of the court and law rather than as individuals.
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