Impartiality and Emotion in Judicial Work: Findings from the Judicial Research Project

Monday 9th October 2017

3.15-4.45 pm

Strathclyde University

Prof Sharyn Roach Anleu, Flinders University, Australia 

Impartiality is a core legal value.  In an adversarial legal system, judicial authority is cast as impersonal, objective and detached, and so impartiality is conventionally understood as requiring judicial practices to be without emotion. Emotion is assumed to be political, unstable, personal, irrational, and inconsistent with the rationality and the cognitive processes necessary for the impartial exercise of judicial authority. However, impartiality and emotions are not mutually exclusive. Both can be part of a process oriented to the ideal of impartial adjudication.

Findings from extensive national empirical research reveal the ways judicial officers understand and perform impartiality in their accounts of daily work, in light of their experiences of emotion and emotion management. Judicial officers must operate in the space between the abstract conception of impartial judicial authority and the emotion work which is necessarily part of the practical demands of judicial tasks. Judicial officers, especially those in lower courts, rely on emotional resources and strategies – not only legal rules and procedure, or the conventional model of the judge – to perform judicial authority and impartiality.

This seminar addresses the fit, (or lack thereof), between emotion in judges' everyday work and impartiality as the central norm of judicial performance.

Booking is essential :