Exploring judicial subjectivity
The Australian Feminist Judgments Project recognises that there has been an incremental increase in the number of women judges presiding in Australian courts in recent years. The efforts made by Australian governments to increase gender balance in the judiciary have been premised upon the need to provide equality of opportunity for women lawyers and to maintain the legitimacy of the legal system by ensuring that the judiciary is more representative of the population it serves. However, the effects of this gender diversity on judicial subjectivity, jurisprudential method and substantive decision-making have not been systematically explored.
Interviews are being conducted with currently-sitting and retired judicial officers as well as judgment authors who are rewriting decisions.
Interviews with judicial officers
The project investigators are conducting a series of face-to-face interviews with current and retired judges, Magistrates and tribunal members from a number of Australian jurisdictions. Approximately 35 judicial officers, including currently sitting and retired senior members of the judiciary, have agreed to participate in interviews in which they reflect on their approaches to and experiences of legal decision-making. These recorded interviews are a rich source of rare research material, which will be drawn upon in analysis to be published in scholarly publications.
Interviews with judgment re-writers
After completing the alternative feminist judgments, judgment re-writers were interviewed to elicit comments by the authors on the experience of writing decisions, including the feminist perspectives and approaches drawn upon, the methods and materials used, constraints experienced, whether the judgment turned out as expected and what they have learnt about the potential of law and legal reasoning to engage feminist principles.
See H Douglas, F Bartlett, T Luker and R Hunter, 'Reflections on Rewriting Law' in H Douglas, F Bartlett, T Luker and R Hunter eds. Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting and Rewriting Law (Hart, 2014) pp19-36: http://www.hartpub.co.uk/pdf/samples/9781849465212sample.pdf