Evaluating judicial performance for caseload allocation
Monash University * Faculty of Law
School of Business and Law
This article examines the principles and processes governing the allocation of work to judicial officers in Australian courts. It investigates the extent to which implicit evaluation of judicial performance occurs as part of the workload allocation process. This allocation is influenced primarily by the need to dispose of the court’s business efficiently as well as by a desire to provide a fair distribution of work. Although Australian courts traditionally value generalist judges who can deal with all types of cases that come before them, efficiency (and fairness) may require recognising and utilising particular knowledge and skills of each judicial officer. As a result, assessments of the performance of individual judicial officers necessarily form part of the allocation process. These assessments are often made by senior judicial officers or experienced court staff responsible for the caseload allocation process. They are generally made informally, relying on secondary sources of information, but may also be informed by direct knowledge of the judicial officer’s experiences or preferences in relation to type or amount of work. While important for the flexibility of court operations, these informal evaluations can lead to some inefficiencies and unfairness.