The aim of this research is to understand the institutional requirements and practical tasks involved in allocating cases to courts and judicial officers. To identify key issues relevant to workload allocation, extensive consultations were undertaken with individual judicial officers and court staff with responsibility for workload allocation, in a variety of court sizes and locations. Building on these consultations, the study used semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with court staff and judicial officers involved in workload allocation. These interviews enabled in-depth examination of the work allocation processes from different standpoints, producing rich, detailed information regarding perceptions and experiences of allocating work in courts.
These in-depth interviews were undertaken in four magistrates’ courts, two intermediate courts and three higher courts, in five Australian jurisdictions in 2007, 2008 and 2012. Each interview was conducted by two researchers, usually Anne Wallace and Sharyn Roach Anleu; five were conducted by Anne Wallace and Kathy Mack and three were conducted by Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack. To enable comparison of practices and attitudes across the courts, interviews were structured around key issues relevant to allocation. Interview questions covered background information about the court context, the process and method of workload allocation, and principles, values or goals informing workload allocation. Interview questions were open-ended, allowing interviewees to discuss a full range of issues from their own perspective and in their own words, based on their experience and knowledge.
In addition to these interviews, courts provided a range of internal statistical data and records relating to workload allocation, such as rosters. The study also drew on data developed nationally over several years through the Magistrates Research Project and Judicial Research Project, including the National Surveys and the National Court Observation Study.
A detailed report of the findings from the Study has been published by the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration:
Mack, Kathy, Anne Wallace and Sharyn Roach Anleu (2012) Judicial Workload: Time, Tasks and Work Organisation. Melbourne: Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration 1-229.
Other findings from this Study that have been published:
Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack, Judging and Emotion (2021) Routledge.
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.
Wallace, Anne, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack (2017) ‘Judicial Work and AV Use: Perceptions from Australian Courts’, Oñati Socio-Legal Series 7(4): 691-716.
Roach Anleu, Sharyn and Kathy Mack (2017) Performing Judicial Authority in the Lower Courts, London: Palgrave.
Wallace, Anne, Kathy Mack and Sharyn Roach Anleu (2014) ‘Work allocation in Australian courts: Court staff and the judiciary’ 36(4) Sydney Law Review 669-694. Available from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2598414.
Wallace, Anne, Kathy Mack and Sharyn Roach Anleu (2012) ‘Caseload Allocation and Special Judicial Skills: Finding the ‘Right Judge’?’ International Journal For Court Administration 68-81. Available from: http://www.iacajournal.org/articles/10.18352/ijca.87/galley/68/download/.
Wallace, Anne, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack (2015) ‘Evaluating Judicial Performance for Caseload Allocation’ 41(2) Monash University Law Review 445-468. Available from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2757524.
This phase of the research was supported by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant (LP0669168), with the Magistrates Courts of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria as Collaborating Organisations, as well as the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration with support from Flinders University as host institution.