Oct 24

United States Ranks 25th In World For Judicial Independence

The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018 (cover), published September 26, 2017 by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018, published September 26, 2017 by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.

Judicial independence in the U.S. is ranked 25th among the world’s countries in The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018. The U.S. also ranked in 34th place for the rating of a country’s bribe prone judiciary. Finland ranked first in both categories. The report was published on September 26, 2017.

The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) is published annually by the World Economic Forum based in Geneva, Switzerland. The WEF is a non-profit organization founded in 1971. The report is based on consultation with policymakers, business leaders, civil society leaders, academics, and the public at large.

The annual report tracks the performance of close to 140 countries in 12 categories related to competitiveness and economic development and prosperity. One of those categories is Institutions, which includes the sub-category of Checks and Balances on government power.* Checks and Balances includes four categories. One of those is Judicial Independence: which is defined as independence of the judicial system from influences of the government, individuals, or companies. [1]

The Judicial Independence rankings are based on a rating scale of 1 to 7. A score of 1 means a country’s judicial system heavily favors the government or well-connected firms and individuals. A score of 7 means a country’s judicial system is neutral.

The GCR ranks the following as the top ten countries for judicial independence in 2017 — with the U. S. included for comparison:

Judicial independence - facebook - img 1 - 10-23-17

Judicial Independence – Image 1

New Zealand has been ranked for each of the last 10 years as the number 1 or 2 highest rated country for judicial independence. Its annual rating has ranged from 6.6 to 6.8. Finland’s ranking has ranged from number 1 to 6, with its annual rating ranging from 6.3 to 6.8.

The five lowest rated countries for judicial independence in 2017 are:

Judicial independence - facebook - img 2 - 10-23-17

Judicial Independence – Image 21

Venezuela has been the lowest ranked country for judicial independence for each of the last 10 years. Its annual rating has ranged from 1.1 to 1.7. Its rating has been 1.1 since 2013.

The United State’s ranking and rating from 2008 to 2017 is:

Judicial Independence - Image 3

Judicial Independence – Image 3

Another category concerning integrity of the judiciary is the GCR’s Checks and Balances category “Irregular payments and bribes.” That category includes how common it is “make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with … (e) obtaining favorable judicial decisions?” The rankings are based on a rating scale of 1 to 7. A score of 1 means undocumented extra payments or bribes is “very common,” while a score of 7 means they “never occur.” [2]

The GCR ranks the following as the top ten bribe free countries in 2017 — with the U. S. included for comparison:

Judicial Independence - Image 4

Judicial Independence – Image 4

The U.S.’s 2017 rank of being only the 34th most bribe free country wasn’t an anomaly. The GCR added the “Irregular payments and bribes” category in 2010, and the U.S. ranking was number 40 with a rating of 5.0. In 2010 New Zealand was ranked as the most bribe free country with a rating of 6.7. The following chart lists the U.S.’s bribery ranking for every year since 2010:

Judicial Independence - Image 5

Judicial Independence – Image 5

Click here to read The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018.

While a favorable court ruling is certainly not for sale to the middle and lower economic classes that can’t afford the going rate (whatever that is), the GCR suggests judicial rulings in the U.S. are susceptible to be being influenced by well-heeled individuals and organizations.

Endnote:
[1] “To what extent is the judiciary in your country independent from influences of members of government, citizens, or firms? [1 = heavily influenced; 7 = entirely independent]” See, “1.06 Judicial independence,” 2.2: Data Tables — Section 1: Institutions, “The Global Competitiveness Report 2010–2011,” World Economic Forum, 371

[2] “In your country, how common is it for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with (a) imports and exports; (b) public utilities; (c) annual tax payments; (d) awarding of public contracts and licenses; (e) obtaining favorable judicial decisions? The answer to each question ranges from 1 (very common) to 7 (never occurs)” See, “1.05 Irregular payments and bribes,” 2.2: Data Tables — Section 1: Institutions, “The Global Competitiveness Report 2010–2011,” World Economic Forum, 370

October 23, 2017
By Hans Sherrer
Justice Denied

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