In an opinion-piece in the Dominion-Post on Friday, Stephen Franks suggested allowing voters to vote out judges. It sounds like a good idea, until you realise what it actually means: the demise of an impartial and independent judiciary.
Perhaps a history lesson is in order. Once upon a time, judges served at the pleasure of the monarch. Their judgements therefore had to conform to monarchical prejudice, or else they would find themselves removed from office (as Sir Edward Coke was removed by James I). This was understandably bad for justice, which is why we have lifetime appointments with Parliament able to remove judges only for "misbehaviour" or incapacity.
Introducing judical recalls will simply replicate this seventeenth century problem, only with the people in the place of the king. Judges will ensure that their decisions conform to popular prejudice - regardless of what the law says - in order to avoid being voted out of office. This will undermine the core purpose of the judiciary - providing impartial justice.
Our present system is by no means perfect - it makes it very difficult to hold a judge who consistently ignores precedent to account - but it is far better than the alternative. Introducing judicial recalls will result in partial and compromised decisions. if we care about justice, we should reject them.