A Trial for the Arts!

It’s a Trial for the Arts

A Judicial Review will go ahead following the controversial decision to distance the creation of art from commercial imperatives.

Stemming from PM Jacinda Ardern’s claim that commercial imperatives were constraining the arts, and indicated Government plans to revamp the arts funding system, an unnamed claimant has asked the courts to test whether the newly minted Prime Minister has acted unlawfully.

The case will be heard on the 22 February 2018 at an adjunct-High Court, commonly called the ‘Ultimate Court’, a name popularised by its only ever sitting Judge, Justice Jody Ranzerson.

The Ultimate Court was set up to ‘bring justice to the people’. In keeping with this tradition, Justice Ranzerson has required the case to be advertised in the Auckland Fringe Festival.

Calling traditional jury selection procedures ‘outdated’ and ‘boring’, Justice Ranzerson will be selecting jury members on the day of the trial. Ranzerson makes extensive use of juries, in trials that do not usually require, or even allow, them. This will be the first Judicial Review in history to feature a jury, essentially putting law-making power into the hands of twelve people who just wanted to see a show.

Members of the traditional legal profession are less enthusiastic about this encroachment on their mandate.

“That would be absurd...preposterous,”

says Senior Solicitor Max Hardy. It’s a view apparently shared by many; the idea of citizens drawn by lot determining the country’s laws has received savage criticism from all corners of the media and Government. According to one senior MP

“arts policy is one thing, but it’s a slippery slope, what do we let the plebs decide next? Trade deals? The budget? It’s irresponsible in the extreme.”

That fear may be well founded. In a statement on her Twitter account, @JudgeJody called for called for more issues to be tried at the Ultimate Court and asked her followers to tweet their suggestions.

The trial will take place st Samoa House, 20 Samoa House Lane at 7pm. Details of the case including the identities of key witnesses will be released in the coming weeks.

It's a Trial is a co-production between Binge Culture and Barbarian Productions, and is on at Samoa House (a Basement and Beyond programme venue) on 22 Feb, as part of Auckland Fringe Festival 2018.