All trials should be public so that public opinion, which is the best, or perhaps only cement of society, may curb the authority of the powerful, and the passions of the judge, and that the people may say, ‘We are protected by the laws; we are not slaves’; a sentiment which inspires courage.

—Cesare Beccaria. Of Crimes and Punishments, 1764.

The administration of justice should be transparent. This ensures that witnesses are truthful, judges adhere to the law and legal counsel dare not mislead the court. Confidence in the police is enhanced when they are made to squirm in the witness box. It reassures the people that no one is above the law and that the police are servants of the law and not tyrants. Moreover the general gravity of the proceedings being on public display deters wrongdoers and reassures the populace they are safe from arbitrary arrest, imprisonment or forfeiture.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove