One of the most noteworthy aspects of the separation of powers is that the various independence and strength of each arm of the body politic – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – varies from country to country. As mentioned in legal theory the judiciary is often considered to have too much power in America. As with the UK judges are able to interpret laws very much in a contrary way to the original intention of the legislatures who framed the law.
The reason for the strength of the UK and American judiciary is that judges do not feel threatened. They are revered by society and protected by the police. In Italy where judges have to deal with mafioso cases this is sometimes not the case. There is always a constant fear that the judge and witnesses will meet an untimely end in order to spoil the trial.
Part of the strength of a free and independent judiciary depends on a free press. Unless the press can report injustices, attacks on lawyers, bribery, corruption etc. then it is difficult for a judge to feel secure in his or her position. After all judges are able to decide if the president or prime minister is worthy of criminal prosecution. And if he or she is found guilty it is the judge that decides the punishment.
In Thailand it is noticeable that judges feel insecure. They tend to keep quiet during coups and never question the legality of constitutional amendments.
I once met a Thai judge in riverside hotel in Bangkok. He told me in confidence that the judiciary is far from independent. The third estate is the army not the judiciary.