Saudi Gazette/Okaz report on a case of judicial abuse so flagrant that it was immediately corrected and a judge is about to receive at least an official rebuke.

Here, a judge cut off in traffic, summoned the errant driver to his court and had him locked up. As the article reports, this was grossly outside the judge’s official power. The Ministry of Justice has asked the driver to file an official complaint so that it can take action against the judge.

That is good, of course, but it flags the fact that judges act on their own still. While there are standards on judicial conduct, they seem too lax. It is only the most egregious of acts that draw official attention. Meanwhile, cases can linger in the courts for years while judges let non-appearances by defendants go unchallenged. Judges, not strictly tied to legal precedent, have the power to pick and choose among conflicting hadith to make their decisions, with no precednet other than what is stated explicitly in the Quran binding.

Judges clearly – and deservedly – have power. They must, however, be constrained in their exercise of tht power. That the judge in this case thought he had extraordinary power is not unique, but his abuse should serve as a lesson to other jurists. As Saudi legal reform progresses, we should see fewer cases of this.

Judge abuses power over personal grudge
Ibrahim Alawi | Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – In a surprising case of power abuse, a Jeddah District Court judge allegedly ordered the arrest of a Saudi man who merely cut him off while driving on a busy street recently.

Amro Ali Abdo told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that he cut off another driver while driving during the rush hour last Thursday. The driver rolled down his window and questioned his motive for the dangerous maneuver. Abdo apologized and thought it was over.

However, he was summoned to the Jeddah District Court on Monday and the driver he had cut off on Thursday was none other than the judge of the court.

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