capricious | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: General Term

Capricious refers to a decision or action made without reason, explanation, or based on personal preference, undermining fairness and justice.

In the context of procedural law, the term capricious refers to a decision or action by a legal authority that is made without reason or explanation or that is based on a whim or personal preference rather than on the law or the facts of the case. Capricious actions can be detrimental to the administration of justice and can lead to unfair or unjust outcomes.

Capricious actions can take many forms, including arbitrary decisions, inconsistent enforcement of the law, or decisions that are based on irrelevant or extraneous factors. For example, a judge who issues a ruling without considering the evidence presented in a case or who makes a ruling based on personal beliefs rather than on the law would be engaging in capricious behavior.

Capricious actions by legal authorities can be particularly damaging in criminal cases, where the stakes are high, and the consequences of an unjust outcome can be severe. For example, a capricious decision by a prosecutor to bring charges against an individual based on personal animus rather than on evidence can result in an unfair trial and wrongful conviction.

To prevent capricious actions by legal authorities, procedural law establishes clear rules and procedures for decision-making and requires legal authorities to provide reasoned explanations for their decisions. These rules are designed to ensure that decisions are based on the law and the facts of the case rather than on personal bias or preference.

Procedural law also provides individuals with the right to challenge capricious actions through the appeals process. This allows individuals to have their cases reviewed by a higher court or tribunal, which can overturn or modify a capricious decision and ensure that justice is served.

Preventing capricious actions by legal authorities requires ongoing efforts to promote transparency, accountability, and fairness within the legal system. This can involve measures such as training legal authorities on the importance of impartiality and due process, establishing clear guidelines for decision-making, and ensuring that legal authorities are subject to meaningful oversight and accountability mechanisms.

In addition to these institutional measures, it is also important to promote a culture of integrity and professionalism within the legal system. This can involve measures such as promoting ethical conduct, providing ongoing training and education, and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/26/2023


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