Barrister bullying surveyed
Almost two thirds of Victorian barristers report experiencing judicial bullying in the courtroom.
Barristers responded to the wellbeing survey with statements like “judicial bullying, especially in long-running cases, is excruciating” and “judicial bullying is alive and well”.
Judges and magistrates were accused of “shouting” and “yelling without good reason”, and exhibiting “patronising”, “sarcastic” and “arrogant”.
“Eye-rolls and inappropriate comments from the bench” were reported, as was “yelling and being spoken to like a child”, “rude and unnecessarily and unjudicial personal comments from the bench”, “[being] treated as if I was the accused”, “harassment, verbal abuse, emotional abuse”.
A total of 59 per cent of Victorian barristers who responded to the survey said they had experienced denigration and bullying from judges or magistrates.
Victoria's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Anne Ferguson issued a statement saying courts were no different to other workplaces.
“Robust and vigorous legal debate is common in the courtroom, but judges across all jurisdictions must always be mindful to treat people with respect and dignity,” she said.
“Bullying, discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in our courts.”
Justice Ferguson says she is working with the president of the Victorian Bar to develop a protocol for barristers that would allow them directly raise any concerns with her.