Courts and the judiciary are an important site for investigating social change. They are subject to forces of social change, which can be resisted or accommodated, and they are implicated in strategies for implementing social change.  Wider social changes may affect courts as institutions, lead to changes in the nature of judging and alter the composition of the judiciary.

This ongoing project investigates ways in which social change impacts on the work of courts and the role(s) of judicial officers as well as the the limits or constraints on courts as a site of social change, with a particular focus on gender. The research examines the views and experiences of judicial officers individually and collectively using several approaches:

  1. National Survey of Australian Magistrates 2002 
  2. National Survey of Australian Judges 2007
  3. National Survey of Australian Magistrates 2007 

Publications from this phase of the project include:

Hunter, Rosemary, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack ‘Feminist Judging in Lower Courts’ (forthcoming)

Wallace, Anne, Sharyn Roach Anleu, and Kathy Mack (2019) ‘Judicial Engagement and AV Links: Judicial Perceptions from Australian Courts’, International Journal of the Legal Profession 26(1): 51-67.

Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2019) ‘Law and Sociology’ in Naomi Creutzfeldt, Marc Mason and Kirsten McConnachie (eds) Routledge Handbook on Socio-Legal Theory and Method, Routledge: 149-161.

Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2019) ‘Communicating Justice: Alternative Judicial Approaches’ in Pat Carlen (ed) Justice Alternatives, Routledge: pp.185-202

Mack, Kathy, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Jordan Tutton (2018) ‘The Judiciary and the Public: Judicial Perceptions’, Adelaide Law Review 39(1): 1-36.

Hunter, Rosemary, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack (2016) ‘Judging in lower courts: Conventional, procedural, therapeutic and feminist approaches’ International Journal of Law in Context doi:10.1017/S1744552316000240.

Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2013) ‘Social Change in the Australian Judiciary’ in Kerry Carrington, Matthew Ball, Erin O’Brien and Juan Tauri (eds) Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, Palgrave Macmillan: 200-214.

Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2007) ‘Magistrates, magistrates courts and social change’ 29(2) Law and Policy 183-209.

Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2007) ‘Australian Magistrates, Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Social Change’, Transforming Legal Processes in Court and Beyond: A Collection of Refereed Papers from the 3rd International Conference on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Greg Reinhardt and Andrew Cannon (eds), Perth, Western Australia, 7-9 June 2006: 173-86.

Interviews with judicial officers

Interviews were conducted in 2012 and 2013 with a national sample (38) of Australian judicial officers.  The sample included interviewees from each state and territory and from every level of the judiciary. Nineteen male and 19 female respondents were approximately matched in terms of age, cohort, time on the bench and court hierarchy.

These interviews enabled specific investigation of the views of the judiciary with respect to new roles for courts and judges in a changing social and economic policy context in which there is greater emphasis on resolution not contest, therapeutic jurisprudence, and greater judicial intervention.  Interviews provide a nuanced account of how judicial officers understand courts as institutions that can contribute to or resist social change and their role within that process.

The interviews were composed of open-ended questions.  Interviews addressed:

  • issues of social change and the courts generally;
  • perceptions of recent changes, in particular greater appointment of women,  to the courts as an institution;
  • how judges/magistrates understand the courts as institutions that can contribute, resist or undermine change;
  • estimations of the ways in which these changes impact on their everyday work and decisions;
  • how they understand their role as judicial officers in the context of these changes;
  • experiences of work place and professional cultures; and
  • experiences of the intersections between work commitments and family obligations, including the ways in which high income levels might buffer traditional gender expectations.

This phase of the research, in particular the interviews, was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP 1096888).