Some information about the strange forms of influencing judges in the finalization of acts of justice (2)
By Nicolae Catrina, yoga professor
You should also read the first part of the article
Following the synthesis of the studies conducted until present day on the psychological influences on court decisions, (we underline, once again, that in this case, we are already referring to those judges who are honest and uninfluenced by material or political leverages, who are not being blackmailed in any way) we continue our presentation of the conclusions of these studies:
1. Any judgment is influenced, most often, in an unsuspected way by certain psychic factors, the most important of which is the “anchor effect”.
In a different experiment, conducted in Germany, as well, in the year 2005, the hypothetic case of the two young people who knew each other at a party, after which the woman ends up being raped, was presented to 177 persons, who were suggested – simultaneously – with two distinct scenarios of the judgment of that case. In the first scenario, right during the process, a friend of the victim shouted (in the court room): “Give him five years!” In the second scenario, a friend of the defendant shouted (in the court room): “Acquit him!” A part of the persons taking part in this experiment was then supposed to imagine they are discussing the incident with a colleague during the recess of the trial and during that discussion; they had to ask if the respective solicitation was too harsh, too lenient, or balanced. In the end, all the participants were asked to state the punishment they would give if they were the judge.
The results of the experiment have shown that when the subjects had heard somebody pleading for five years in prison (the superior “anchor”), they have then set a medium sentence of two years and nine months. In return, when they were in the presence of an inferior “anchor” (the request of acquittal) the verdict was invariably smaller than two years. The researchers noticed there is another supplementary factor that influences decisions: when the subjects talked about the trial, during the break, there weren’t any significant differences between the verdicts. The fact that only 2% of participants were aware that their decision was influenced by certain external factors was also noteworthy.
Consequently, the proofs that had been offered by all these studies and experiments are clear and undeniable: when they are giving sentences, the judges are not taking into account only the facts and the objective data, as they should!
Of course, one might object here, that in a court room there are many types of “anchors” (both the ones that are incriminating the defendant, and the ones that attract clemency on the defendant). And due to the fact that these antagonistic types of “anchors” are then present together, they might cancel each other. In addition, in a penal process, the defense plea takes place after the prosecution’s plea, and then the defendant has the last word. So it would be logical to think that the defense plea could effectively constitute a low level “anchor” (a request for a more lenient punishment), as opposed to the high level “anchor” that has been induced by the prosecution’s plea.
However, studies have clearly and definitely shown that things are not like that at all, on the contrary: even the defense attorney is influenced, without even knowing it, by the “anchors” induced by the prosecution’s indictment! And this effect is completely unconscious. The cautious analysis of the official notes (in the court room) of many real processes has emphasized, beyond any doubt, the conclusions of these studies.
But “the anchor effect” is not the only psychic influence judges are exposed to when stating their sentence. Psychologist Charles Pruitt, from the University of Madison, Wisconsin (USA) and politologist James Wilson from the University of California, Los Angeles (USA) have shown in 1983 that African-American defendants were often sentenced to harsher punishments (in comparison to Caucasian defendants), even when the crimes they were blamed for were almost legally identical. This objective study has finally managed to make American magistrates aware of this racial discrimination and, as a consequence, there were some changes and corrections introduced in some judicial texts, into the American legislation.
The considerable influence of the physical aspect of the defendant in the judge’s sentence
Psychologists who have conducted the experiments and studies that we’ve previously mentioned have also discovered the fact that the physical appearance of the defendant is also of great influence on the judges, in giving the sentence.
Researchers have subsequently explained this influence of the physical aspect through the so called “halo effect”, which spontaneously causes us to have the tendency to attribute (or even to project) benefic qualities and characteristics to extremely beautiful, attractive and seductive people. Consequently, such defendants have more chances (than the people who aren’t especially beautiful) to get a more lenient sentence, no matter the crime they’ve committed, with the exception of the case when the respective defendants (who are endowed with a very attractive physique) have taken advantage of this very quality (their power of seduction) in committing those felonies.
Thus, in a study conducted in 1975, researchers Harold Sigall and Nancy Ostrove from the University of Maryland, USA, have asked a number of 120 judges to give a sentence in two hypothetic cases, that were actually absolutely identical, except one of the two files contained the photography of a very beautiful and attractive woman, while the second file contained the photography of an unattractive woman. In the case of the unattractive woman, the judges gave a 5.2 years sentence while the attractive woman was given a 2.8 year sentence. But in the case of a fraud where it was obvious that the defendant took advantage of her obvious power of seduction, the punishment was harsher: 5.5 years for the attractive women, as opposed to only 4.4 years for the unattractive one.
The importance of the defendant’s physical beauty in setting the sentence also depends on the personality of the judge, who can be a predominantly rational or emotional person. Psychologist Joel Liebermann, from the University of Nevada (USA) has shown, in 2002, that all the 81 subjects that he had studied did not give beautiful and attractive defendants smaller fines, unless there was some part of their file which made use of an emotional language. On the contrary, their beauty had no effect whatsoever on setting the fine, if the information in the file were completely rational.
Other studies have shown there are many additional aspects that the judges account for, whether they are aware of it or not, when giving a sentence. Some of these factors are: the social status of the defendant, his/her abilities of expression (including his speaker skills) during the hearings, even his gestures. The obvious sympathy or antipathy that the judges can feel towards the defendants during trials can also surprisingly and significantly influence their final decision.
2. Any trial, any fair trial should always be based on an objective and unprejudiced analysis of facts. In spite that, some psychic effects are obviously in favor of subjectivity and they are often considerably influencing the judges’ decision.
Even the written explanation that the judges attach to their sentences is proving that the personality and the preferences of the judges are playing an important part in their decisions. In this direction, psychologist Margit Oswal, from the University of Berne (Switzerland) points out a difference between the judges that are focusing their decisions on the defendant, in the first place, from the judges who are focusing their sentences to the well-being of the society. The first type of judges is mainly concerned with the defendant and thus, they will choose a verdict that seeks to help reeducating the defendant, or at least prevent a reoccurrence of the event. On the other side, the judges in the second category, while their main focus is on the society as a whole, they will give a sentence that will mainly account for the victims, their families and the consequences of the felony on the society. Margit Oswald has discovered, during a study she conducted in 1994, that this predominant orientation of the judges is obviously influencing the sentences: If the judge is more focused on the victims and the society, he will give a harsher punishment.
Confronted with this considerable number of psychic influences that come up when choosing a verdict, the very principle of the so called equality of men before the law is jeopardized. That’s why, following all these studies, the natural question comes to mind: “How could honest judges guard themselves from such influences?”
The answer is that they should first be aware that they can be influenced! Any judge – before giving a certain sentence – should know that there might be some cognitive distortions, in his decision (triggered by the earlier analyzed factors); they must also know the influence (orientation) and even the intensity of these influences they are subconsciously and unconsciously subjected to.
But this is not enough. For example, in the case of the “anchor effect”, the fact that the judge already knows the existence of this effect is not enough for him to suppress it; not even the most experienced judges can guard them from this strange and insidious effect. And to “plant” another “anchor”, in order to compensate the first one is not going to considerably improve the situation, because the effect of the second “anchor” will still be influenced by the first one.
Yet these psychic influences can be efficiently countered. For that, the judges must promptly find the information which is in an obvious contradiction with the “anchor” and take it into consideration. This solution proves to be extremely efficient, due to the much better cognitive integration of the group of veridical information associated to a certain case in court. But this will always be conditioned, not only by the defense presenting their counter-arguments to the prosecution, but also by the judge doing his/her best to find himself some trustworthy counter-arguments to the prosecution’s arguments, if he/she truly wants to fully compensate the “anchor effect” produced by the prosecution’s plea.
We must state that this cognitive strategy (which consists of an attentive search and involves the proper objective analysis of what we already know) usually requires a considerable effort from the respective judge. In this respect, an adequate systematic psychic formation (preparation) of the judges might help them gain and even perfect such ability. It (this psychic preparation) might give them some compulsory cognitive strategies in order to counter all these unsuspected influences that can cause them to give wrong sentences, more or less.
Beyond all this information, the lucid and rigorous evaluation of the facts is and will always remain the essential aspect in any righteous act of justice. But one must be also aware of the fact that the subjective components influencing the decision making is also characteristic (to a significant extent!) of a judge’s work. Ultimately, we must not forget that a judge is also a human being, just like any other, and that’s why, his decisions are essentially, suggestible.
The crafty influences that are being carried out from the shadows in the case of corrupt judges, with the purpose of giving an “ordered” sentence
Further on, we will analyze the situation of the corrupt judges, or the judges that are either politically controlled, either controlled through other means (the so called “puppet”-judges, the judge Ionuţ Matei being one of them, as previously stated by numerous journalists – see this article). In this case, we might say that, the psychic influences are not present, or by any means, insignificant, because, most of the times, here, in Romania, in processes that are made up by political orders, such obedient and corrupt judges already know (sometimes even before the start of the trial!) the sentence that they have to give.
It is obvious that in the case of corrupt judges, this does not represent an example of honesty – or a minimal effort to find out the truth or to cause justice to prevail. That’s why, in the case of such judges, talking about the “anchor effect” or about other subtle psychic influences (almost all the psychic factors that, as we have previously pointed out, can influence honest judges – those judges who truly want to give a just sentence) would be ridiculous. In the case of these puppet-judges, it would be a complete waste of time to try and look for such psychic subtle influences in their “ordered” decisions (influences such as the “anchor effect” or the influence of other, more subtle factors). In their case, there is only one influence that truly matters: that of their puppeteers, who control them from the shadows.
Recently, the obedient puppet of the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice (HCCJ), Ionuţ Matei did not receive any critique for the hallucinating ENORMOUS sentence he gave in the “case” of the yoga professor Gregorian Bivolaru (6 years of imprisonment for an alleged felony in which the one thing which is obviously, for all of us, missing, is… the victim!!!); not only that, but on the contrary (and this aspect is extremely significant, especially in the context of this article): Ionuţ Matei was recently fully rewarded for his servility and we tend to believe that this is the reason for his promotion!
The High Council of the Magistracy has indeed approved on Monday, the 11th of November 2013, the naming of Ionuţ Matei as vice-president of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, voted unanimously. This is a three year mandate, with the possibility of renewal. According to the establishment of the Court, Ionuţ Matei will also lead one of the penal team of judges, made of five judges, teams which usually give definitive sentences in files of high corruption. A very significant aspect is also the fact that Ionuţ Matei was the only candidate for the seat of vice-president of the Supreme Court – probably due to the fact that, among others, they wanted his promotion/reward to be a certain thing, with no surprises.
Ionuţ Matei is, as we already know, a judge from 1995 and he successively practices law at the 3rd Sector Judicature, Bucharest Court of Law and at the Bucharest Court House. However, due to his more than suspicious decisions in the Cămătaru clan case, Ionuţ Matei was investigated in 2008, by the High Council of the Magistracy. And yet, instead of being punished because he disobeyed a decision of the Constitutional Court (a decision which acts as a mandatory text of law), Ionuţ Matei received a promotion, in November 2007 to the High Court of Cassation and Justice! And subsequently (in November 2011), he was designated as a member of the leading committee of the HCCJ.
In conclusion, after being rewarded in 2011, for his servility in conducting the orders of pulling Nuţu Cămătaru out of prison, with his promotion at the HCCJ, we are now being faced with another “present” given to Ionuţ Matei: a new promotion, which is no coincidence that it comes shortly after he gave a sentence which defies not only the laws (as this judge has defied, with unlimited impertinence, the defense attorneys and witnesses) but even the most elementary common sense, considering the fact that, in the case of yoga professor Gregorian Bivolaru, we are talking (as shown earlier), about a sentence in a penal case where there is no… victim!
Hence, we might say that in the case of Ionuţ Matei, the influencing (by political command) of his decisions in court was followed both by his professional promotion, and materially (as proven and made public by a series of brave journalists – especially those from România Liberă – in 2008 – 2009), by the large amounts of money (approximately 1 000 000 euro) which (those journalists support this with crushing evidence) Ionuţ Matei had received from the Cămătaru clan.
In conclusion, the case of the judge Ionuţ Matei is a typical case of influencing – through underground leverages belonging to mafia-like structures that have already taken hold of the Romanian justice – of the act of justice, a case of blatant and barbaric influencing the decision of the most important institution of the Romanian justice (The High Court of Cassation and Justice) by the cynical and lugubrious representatives of certain occult structures which include, as we’ve shown in previous articles, some officers of the SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service).
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