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"Retire? Yeah, I want to die with my head in the typewriter. That's my idea of retirement."
- Alfred Bester

Mechanical Judge  
  A device that makes legal decisions.  

"What do you mean by a Mechanical Judge?" demanded Harry; while the iron worker took his right hand and made him hold a knob connecting with and electric wire.


(From Mechanical Judge from 'The Lord of Tranerica')

"A Mechanical Judge," the Cipher declared, "represents the height of judicial advance. Now that all decisions are machine-made, we can be sure they will be uniform quality. We can also be sure they will be swift, efficient, and positive. Besides, the Mechanical Judge cannot be bribed."

"No, but they say he can be fixed," contributed the Lightning Bolt.

"...The principle is really very simple. Why, didn't they have lie detectors long ago, so far back, I believe, as the twentieth century? We're merely enlarged upon the same idea. Everything that happens to a man, you see, leaves its reaction in his nervous system, and in his blood stream. Each incident, each thought arouses a faint electric current very weak, it is true; yet a sufficiently powerful machine, with strong amplifiers, can register it and interpret it by its wave-length. So, if a man has treasonous ideas "

From The Lord of Tranerica, by Stanton A. Coblentz.
Published by Dynamic Science Stories in 1939
Additional resources -

Quickly, a decision was reached:

"Sure the Mechanical Judge never makes mistakes?" Harry went on, a little nervously. "I'd hate to see the wrong decision."

"Have no fear," returned the Cipher, mournfully. "They say his record of convictions is nearly one hundred per cent."

The next instant there came a sudden snapping sound from inside the largest machine, and a red hand shot up, along with some crimson notations.

"Prisoner Number 1 ," read an arrow pointing in the Cipher's direction, "ZX i." . . . "Prisoner Number 2," said an arrow aimed at the Lightning Bolt, "ZX 2." . . . "Prisoner Number 3," announced an arrow that indicated Harry, "ZX 3."

"That's the decision, of course," stated the Cipher, extricating himself from the rubber tube and wire. "There's a table at the end of the room to interpret the code." AU three hastily made their way across the room, and could hardly keep from groaning as they read: "ZX 1, Guilty of treason in the third degree. Confinement for fifty years. . . . ZX 2. Guilt of treason in the second degree Confinement for life. . . . ZX 3. Guilty of treason in the first degree. Execution in thirty days.

Compare to the psychoprobe from Satellite Five (1938) by Arthur K. Barnes, the quizzer from Agent of Vega (1949) by James Schmitz, the psychic probe from Foundation and Empire (1952) by Isaac Asimov, the truth meter from The Star Beast (1954) by Robert Heinlein, the cephaloscope from The Houses of Iszm (1954) by Jack Vance, the veridicator from Little Fuzzy (1962) by H. Beam Piper.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Lord of Tranerica
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanton A. Coblentz
  Tech news articles related to The Lord of Tranerica
  Tech news articles related to works by Stanton A. Coblentz

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