"Show me the man and I'll show you the law."

Scottish Proverb

Scotland flagFirst reported by David Ferguson in his 1641 book Scottish Proverbs.

One of the most significant disadvantages of the judge-based system of dispute resolution is that much rides on the person who sits as judge.

Often, though it is not supposed to, the personal feelings and biases of the judge enters into the equation.

For example, almost all judges are former lawyers and so necessarily highly educated. Because education usually requires a significant investment, a very low proportion of judges are eventually drawn from the lower classes of society. Litigants and lawyers often suspect that a judge's ruling results from a lack of exposure to some of the hardships of a working class life.

Thus the expression "show me the man and I'll show you the law" refers to the reality of judges: that they are often persuaded not by the evidence before them but by personal considerations.

Law and Justice Quotations logo