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Colbran S. Queensland Magistrates' Judicial Development Project. 2002.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/1978
Queensland Magistrates' Judicial Development Project
Earlier this year all Queensland Magistrates were circulated with a detailed plan for the 'Queensland Magistrates Development Project' (the project). The project is contentious and brings into focus the tension between accountability and judicial independence. The project offers magistrates an opportunity for judicial self-improvement based on their own personal observations, opinions of a trusted mentor, and statistical data from participants in the magistrates court process. For many magistrates judicial performance evaluation is as fearsome prospect, one hell bent on undermining judicial independence and centuries of legal tradition. Others take a more liberal view and see the potential for performance evaluation as a useful tool for professional self-development. These contrasting views are based on different perceptions of what the concept of judicial performance evaluation may involve. There is no doubt that a judicial performance evaluation scheme imposed by the executive, reporting to the public, perhaps even offering interstate comparisons and productivity bonuses would be unacceptable to the Australian judiciary. Such an approach would breach the doctrine of separation of powers, begin to undermine judicial independence, and would be vigorously opposed by the judiciary and the legal profession alike – and rightly so. Instances of such an approach have been evident in attempts by remuneration commissions at commonwealth and state levels to introduce performance based salary packaging. Consider then an alternative approach whereby a voluntary judicial performance evaluation scheme is introduced by magistrates for magistrates. Many of you are perhaps wondering why magistrates should consider participating in such a project? The answer is that magistrates are professionals. They are interested in learning about their strengths and weaknesses as perceived by others. They are interested in continuing judicial education. They are interested in professional self-development.