Passed along without comment via Adventures in Ethics and Science:
As a trial-court judge, Florentino V. Floro Jr. acknowledged that he regularly sought the counsel of three elves only he could see. The Supreme Court deemed him unfit to serve and fired him last year. ...
Helping him, he says, are his three invisible companions. "Angel" is the neutral force, he says. "Armand" is a benign influence. "Luis," whom Mr. Floro describes as the "king of kings," is an avenger.
There’s more, about trances, blue robes, psychic powers, and whether elves would intimidate defendants, but the basic question is also raised:
Mr. Floro says he never consulted the invisible elves over judicial decisions and the fact that he puts faith in them should make no difference to his career. "It shouldn't matter what I believe in, whether it's Jesus, Muhammad, or Luis, Armand and Angel," he says in an interview.
And from the blogger:
It strikes me that there's a tension here not unlike that in the Marcus Ross case. On the one hand, our confidence in a particular methodology for decision making (whether scientific or judicial) makes us inclined to say that deploying that methodology will get us reasonably objective and impartial results that have relatively little to do with the details of which particular people are using that method. On the other hand, there are some beliefs that strike us as pretty likely to compromise objectivity and impartiality.
It would be nice to have some empirical data on how compatible elf-belief is with competent exercise of jurisprudence, or of the scientific method. As well, getting some independent confirmation of Mr. Floro's psychosis (to make sure there were other indicators besides elf-belief) would be useful. Otherwise, our inclination to take elf-belief as a disqualification from being a judge (or a scientist) looks like an attractive hypothesis without a whole lot of support.
I’m going to see if I can get a panel on this set up for the next NASC conference.
[Okay, one comment, but not elf-related. Just ask yourself who you’d rather have as a judge—him or this SOB who just forced a family to sell two of their dry cleaning stores by suing and appealing until these poor people didn’t have any more money. No word on his removal from the bench, but being an SOB has never been a disqualification before. Just talking to elves.]