In a remarkably stark assessment, New South Wales District Judge Robyn Tupman warned that docket pressure on Australia’s courts might drive some of her judicial colleagues to suicide.
Citing two recent, high-profile cases of Australian judges taking their own lives, Judge Tupman argued that a lack of resources in the courts put pressure on judges–especially newer judges–to keep up with rapidly expanding dockets. This is particularly concerning, Judge Tupman said, when docket pressure forces judges to make highly sensitive decisions under extreme time pressure. By way of example, she noted that she was scheduled to sentence seven different offenders on the day of her remarks, some of which were bound to draw significant public attention. The clear implication of her remarks was that pressure to get the sentence right was exacerbated by not having enough to time to properly consider it.
Judge Tupman described the her current caseload as “ridiculous, absurd and offensive to the people of NSW.”
Her comments follow other recent statements of concern about judicial mental health in Australia. Local bar leaders and NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman have committed to review the judge’s concerns.