Court Administration

Courts consist of judicial and administrative sides working together to promote the objectives of the courts as defined in legislation. Hitherto the judicial side of the court was concerned mainly with the determination of disputes through an ascertainment of the facts and the law through defined court processes and the application of the law to the facts to determine a proper outcome.

With the advent of problem-solving courts and increasing interest in therapeutic jurisprudence in courts of varying jurisdiction, there are differing demands placed on court staff and on administration generally. Courts operate within financial constraints and must go through the usual government budgetary processes to secure funds needed for their operation. Securing funds for innovative therapeutic jurisprudence based programs in the presence of competing priorities is a challenge court administrators perennially face.

Some therapeutic innovations introduced by magistrates have required court staff to interact and work collaboratively with court stakeholders and community agencies. Some also interact more closely with court participants than before. For example, the Perth Drug Court's judicial support officers conduct the information session for new applicants and also speak with participants in connection with court proceedings.

What is the impact (if any) of court staff/participant interaction on the participant and the goals of the court? What interaction should there be? What training should be provided to staff involved in a therapeutic jurisprudence based court program? What staff should be involved and what skills do they need?

Exploration of therapeutic jurisprudence and court administration in the Australasian context is in its early stages. For example, a preliminary study found that a therapeutic jurisprudence based court program promoted staff satisfaction. Given the importance of the work of court administration for the overall functioning of courts, it is an area that is worthy of further research.

Resources

King MS and Ford S, 'Exploring the Concept of Wellbeing in Therapeutic Jurisprudence: The Example of the Geraldton Alternative Sentencing Regime' (2006) 1 eLaw Journal (special series) 9, https://elaw.murdoch.edu.au/archives/special_series.html

Bartels L and Richards K, ‘Vulnerabilities in the Courtroom’ in Bartkowiak-Théron I and Asquith N (eds.), Policing Vulnerability: The Vulnerabilities of Policing (Federation Press, 2012) pp 233-246. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2188720