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Abstract from

The Magistracy: The Undervalued Work-horse of the Court System

John Willis is Associate Professor, School of Law and Legal Studies, La Trobe University; and a practising member of the Victorian Bar.

Traditionally, there has been a tendency to marginalise the status and importance of the lower courts and magistrates in discourse regarding judicial independence and accountability. In this paper, Willis examines this traditional marginalisation and argues that paradoxically, because the lower courts have been less bound by tradition and formalisation compared to the higher courts, they have been more able to effectively respond to new pressures and demands. The paper historically contextualises `lower court' justice and describes contemporary, innovative developments throughout Australia.

(2001) 18(1) Law in Context 129
Keywords: Judicial independence; Judicial accountability; Courts; Magistry

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