Although a subject of endless fascination in the hermetic world of the legal profession, the judiciary seldom excites the interest of the broader public. Despite the efforts of senior judges to promote understanding of the legal system, the community seems largely content simply to trust that the machinery of justice is working as intended.
This general indifference towards the work of the courts means that it is all the more arresting when public debate is punctuated by one of its periodic bouts of anti-judicial vituperation. Not all of these episodes are alike: some involve the excoriation of the judiciary for alleged softness on crime, whereas others turn on the alleged illegitimacy of a controversial judgment. Yet they are each marked by a willingness on the part of tabloids, shock jocks, and even government ministers to denigrate a branch of government that, by convention, refuses to enter into its own defence.