11 July 2018

Judicial Engagement and AV

'Judicial engagement and AV links: judicial perceptions from Australian courts' by Anne Wallace, Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack in (2018) International Journal of the Legal Profession comments
Use of technology significantly impacts the nature of judicial work. While audio-visual (“AV”) links may generate some efficiencies, the increasing use of this technology conflicts with other important developments, notably procedural justice and therapeutic jurisprudence, which recognise and valorise the interactive nature of judicial work, especially sentencing in criminal cases. Analysing judicial perceptions of AV use in courts creates a clearer picture of its benefits and disadvantages, particularly in light of expectations of direct personal engagement.
The authors argue
Information and communications technologies are often key components of strategies to promote organisational efficiency and reduce costs in courts (see, for example, New South Wales Department of Justice, 2016–17 Annual Report). The use of audio-visual (“AV”) technology also has implications for managing judicial workloads and for the skills and qualities judicial officers need to perform their role. However, courtroom technology may have unintended effects on the quality of communication required for judicial work, especially with the defendant in criminal cases. 
After describing the volume and nature of work and the use of AV technology in Australian courts, the article draws on perceptions and experiences of judicial officers to investigate the implications of AV technology for the reciprocal communication between the judicial officer and others involved in the court process. This is important in light of developments, notably procedural justice and therapeutic jurisprudence, which valorise the interactive nature of everyday judicial work. 
This article reports findings from two projects. First, investigations undertaken nationally over the past decade by the Magistrates Research Project and Judicial Research Project (JRP) into several dimensions of judicial work. Second, research undertaken as part of a three-year empirical research project that investigated the use of AV links in Australian court proceedings (Gateways).