Researchers often choose interviews as the most appropriate method to investigate participants’ experiences of emotion and perceptions of emotion work, as they allow scope for reflexivity and opportunities for probing (Atkinson and Silverman 1997; Holmes 2015). While interview methodology can enable a far-reaching flow of consciousness, some interviewees are more reflexive than others. Some judicial officers may regard questions about emotion difficult (Bergman Blix and Wettergren 2019). It might be impossible for the interviewer (researcher) to discern whether judicial officers are reticent to talk about emotion or whether they lack the tools to do so, especially as the judicial framework is primarily cognitive and behavioural. Judicial work is valorised as thinking and reasoning, not feeling.
A feature of interviews and their analysis as a research strategy is their temporal nature. An interview occurs and is recorded at one point in time. Later it is transcribed, and much later analysed, perhaps several times in different ways. The interview as narrative or conversation becomes text, and the interactive nature shifts from interviewee and interviewer to the re-searcher(s), not necessarily the interviewer, who interprets the interviewtranscript, identifies themes and codes the text (Strauss and Corbin 1998). The research process becomes more akin to historical research that scrapes insight about emotion from documents where ‘[t]he feeling itself is long gone’ (Matt 2014: 41: also see Barclay 2017).
Interviews were undertaken in two JRP projects—Courts, the Judiciary and Social Change (ARC DP 1096888) and Judicial Officers and Workload Allocation ARC (LP 0669168). As part of the Courts, the Judiciary and Social Change project, interviews investigated judicial officers’ views regarding new roles for and expectations about judges and courts in a changing social, economic and policy context; their understandings of core judicial values; and the role of emotion in their work. Between August 2012 and December 2013, Sharyn Roach Anleu conducted open-ended, face-to-face interviews with 38 judicial officers—17 magistrates, 21 judges; 19 men and 19 women—in state courts throughout Australia. The average length of the interviews was 53 minutes (median 51 minutes), and they ranged from 25 minutes to one hour and 33 minutes. Most interviews took place in the judicial officer’s chambers. All interviewees consented to note-taking, and all but two agreed to audio recording. Handwritten notes were fully written up after each interview. The interviews were double coded by Sharyn Roach Anleu and a research assistant (Miles, Huberman and Saldana 2020; Saldana 2016).
This data is indicated by the code ‘I ##' in which the letter 1 identifies this as interview data and ## is the number assigned to the individual interviewee. Quotations are used verbatim and have not been edited to correct grammar or reduce infelicities of spoken language, but retain qualities of natural, everyday speech reflecting the narrative quality of the interviews. All identifying, or potentially identifying, details have been deleted.
Undertaking the interviews is followed by interpreting and analysing the material (James 2012; Mason 2002; Silverman 2013). One researcher conducted all of the interviews benefitting from the ‘contextual experience—the being-there-ness of the researcher—for the process of data analysis’ (James 2012: 565). The other researcher (Kathy Mack) was able to question any taken-for-granted assumptions. ‘Such collaborative exchanges can help with the process of interpretation’ (James 2012: 565; also see Roach Anleu, Bergman Blix and Mack 2015). The interview transcripts were coded into nodes relating to emotion, anticipation, interpretation, experience and management of emotion on the part of the judicial officer and other court participants, within and beyond the courtroom, then analysed using NVivo 10. This text was carefully read several times to identify any further emergent subthemes and patterns. As the interviews were often a flow of consciousness, imposing too many categories may unnecessarily truncate them and depart from the narrative quality of the interview.
In the Judicial Officers and Workload Allocation project, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with judges, magistrates and court officers involved in workload allocation from four magistrates courts, two intermediate and two higher courts between 2007 and 2012. In total, nine judicial officers and 14 court officers or court administrators were interviewed. Each interview was conducted by two researchers, usually Anne Wallace3 and Sharyn Roach Anleu; five were conducted by Anne Wallace and Kathy Mack. One interview with an intermediate court involved four people at once, two judicial officers and two court staff. Most interviews lasted between one and one and a half hours. This data is indicated by the code ‘W ##' in which the letter W identifies this interview data from the Workload project and ## is the number assigned to an individual interviewee, whether a judicial officer or court administrator/staff. The question format was structured, to gather similar information from all courts and to enable comparison of practices and attitudes across the interviewees, though questions were generally open-ended. Interview questions sought background information about the court context, including the volume and nature of work undertaken, details of the process and method of workload allocation, and information on principles, values or goals that guide workload allocation. All these interviews were recorded and transcribed. Interviews were analysed thematically to identify views of a range of interviewees on an issue, such as specialisation or fairness.
•’ At the time of this research collaboration. Professor Anne Wallace was Associate Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Business, Government and Law at the University of Canberra. She is currently Adjunct Professor at La Trobe Law School.