Taking a close look at the judiciary

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Dr David Rottman, Professor Roach Anleu and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint at Flinders University this month.

Comprehensive research into the human elements of judicial behaviour will step up in 2016 with further exchanges with a leading US research and policy institute.

The Judicial Research Project, led by Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor Sharyn Roach Anleu, from the School of Social and Policy Studies, and Emerita Professor Kathy Mack at Flinders Law School, recently hosted a visit by their partner investigator Dr David Rottman, principal researcher at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia.

His visit to Flinders is part of a four-year Australian Research Council-funded project investigating the role of emotion in judicial performance, including stress and work satisfaction, in carrying out judicial work and making impartial and legitimate decisions.

This international collaboration is specifically supported through an International Collaboration Award as part of the ARC Discovery Grant.

“Questions of emotions – subjective judicial emotional experiences, emotional display, emotional performance, and emotion work – have not typically been part of  discussions about or research on the judiciary,” says Professor Roach Anleu.

“Emotions have been viewed as inherently irrational, disorderly, impulsive and personal and therefore as inconsistent with the legitimate exercise of judicial authority.

“However, research to date suggests that complying with judicial norms such as impartiality, neutrality, and fairness often depends on successful emotion management. These developments potentially raise deep questions about the proper role of a judicial officer.”

This study will consider the formal rules and informal norms governing emotion in the performance of the judicial role, examine the kinds of emotions and emotion-related behaviour observed in court and investigate how judicial officers themselves experience and understand the role of emotions in their work.

The US collaboration will draw on American materials on judicial performance evaluation and discipline, as one of several strategies to explore emotion in judging.

This international collaboration is supported as part of the ARC Discovery Grant through an International Collaboration Award.

Professor Roach Anleu will visit the NCSC for a second time next year while Dr Rottman will return to Flinders.  He has held a leading research role at NCSC for over 20 years

The NCSC is supported by the court systems of all 50 US states. Its services are focused on helping courts plan, make decisions, and implement improvements that save time and money, while ensuring judicial administration that supports fair and impartial decision-making. See www.ncsc.org


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