Judgment Writing Program – draft agenda

 

19 to 21 March 2014

Supreme Court Building, Brisbane

Draft Program

 

Wednesday 19 March 2014

9.00  am          Session 1 – Welcome

Presenter: Justice Patrick Keane (High Court of Australia)

 

Session description: The Australian judgment writing style: set in stone?  Why writing clear, cogent judgments should hold no fears – whether from appeal courts or otherwise.

 

9.30 am           Session 2 – Introduction: why are we here ?

Presenters: Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth (Supreme Court of Victoria) and

Justice Alan Wilson (Supreme Court of Queensland)

 

Session description: Why bother trying to change or improve your judgment-writing style? What is this course all about? This session will introduce you to some key concepts from the course, which aims to improve your ability to: identify your audience; focus on the issues; plan for judgment writing; structure your reasons; write reasons that are clear, concise, comprehensive and coherent; become more efficient; enjoy judgment writing

 

10.30 am         Morning tea

11.00 am         Session 3 –  Decisions that convince

Presenter: Justice Patrick Keane (High Court of New Zealand)

Session description: Through the reworking of a decision read in advance by participants, this session focuses on the significance of judgment writing, why it can be difficult and how judicial officers must be discriminating in sifting facts and law and in bringing both to order.

 

12.30pm          Lunch             

 


1.30 pm           Session 4 – The first page – more than just an introduction

Presenter: Justice Peter Murphy (Family Court of Australia)

Session description: Why is the first page of a judgment its flagstone?  What is the relationship between a good first page and good judicial reasoning? How do you write an interesting first page?  This session will demonstrate the importance of a good first page and how it gives direction and shape to your judgment and lays the foundation for the judgment’s precision, style and voice.

 

2.15pm            Session   5 – Group introduction session

Session description: Participants meet briefly in their groups with the group leaders (writer presenter and judge co-presenter) to do introductions, and set times for individual feedback sessions. The meeting is also a chance for participants to discuss what they’ve heard in sessions 2, 3 and 4.

 

2.45pm            Session  6 – Individual feedback session

Session description: Each participant has a private discussion with the group leaders about a sample judgment submitted by the participant prior to the program. While waiting for their individual session, each participant begins to rewrite “The first page” of the submitted judgment, and a list of headings for rewriting the rest of the judgment, having regard to the principles suggested in sessions 2, 3 and 4 and develops a list of headings which show how he/she would structure the rest of the judgment.

 

5.00pm            Close

Participants will continue the first exercise overnight and submit the rewritten first page and list of headings by 9am on Thursday morning

 


Thursday 20 March 2014

9.00 am           Session 7  Planning for the judgment

Presenters:       Justice Monika Schmidt (Supreme Court of New South Wales) and

Judge Tom Wodak (County Court of Victoria rtd)

 

Session description: what to read and do before commencement of the hearing/trial; using existing court practice directions and case management techniques to drive early party identification and refinement of all factual and legal issues; managing the oral, documentary and electronic evidence, including allocating parcels of evidence to topics or issues; methods of note taking; making best use of opening and closing submissions by counsel to confirm and refine the issues; using flow charts and decision trees; prioritising the issues; selecting the line of reasoning ultimately adopted; dealing with the arguments of the respective parties; using judgment structure to ensure that all issues are resolved concisely and logically; deciding what to summarise, and using summaries to make judgment writing easier.

 

10am   Session 8 – Workshop session

Session description: Participants meet in their groups with the group leaders to review each participant’s work on the first exercise.

12pm   Lunch

1pm     Session 9 – Finding your voice and style

Presenters:       Justice Debra Mullins (Supreme Court of Queensland) and

Writer (to be advised)

 

Session description: Voice” refers to the characteristics of a judgment that distinguish it from the judgments of others.  It may be a combination of various aspects of style including the choice of language, the length and structure of sentences and the structure of the judgment.  Should the judge’s voice be recognisable in the judgment or should it be invisible?  Each participant will have the opportunity to identify his or her voice and consider whether it is desirable to change his or her voice and, if so, how it could be done.  This will involve discussion on elements of style.  Is it possible in a judgment to avoid verbosity, repetition, anachronistic language, lengthy quotations, the passive voice and jargon?  How should parties be referred to?    


2pm     Session 10 – Issue identification and resolution

Presenters:       Justice Patrick Keane (High Court of New Zealand) and

Judge Tom Wodak (County Court of Victoria rtd)

 

Session description: The purpose of the session is to develop a participant’s capacity to structure and write issues based decisions. After a short recapitulation of the topics discussed in session 7, there will be small group work on a problem exercise involving a Mareva injunction application, providing a practical opportunity to put the techniques discussed into practice.

 

3.30pm Session 11  Individual work by participants

Session description: Each participant rewrites the remainder of his or her submitted judgment.

5.00pm            Close

Participants will continue the second exercise overnight and submit the rewritten judgment by 9am on Friday morning

 


Friday 21 March 2014

9.00 am           Session 12 – The final ingredient

Presenter: Mr Michael Meehan ((School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University, Victoria))

Session description: This session will explore techniques for making judgments shorter and more readable, through the correct use of ordinary English and clear and succinct expression, and avoiding the use of unnecessary legalisms and foreign words; when to use different “voices”; deciding what material to include or exclude, including quotations from legal authorities, and details such as dates, times and places; editing techniques.

9.45am                        Session 13 – Workshop session (Review rewrite of judgment)

Session description: Participants meet in their groups with the group leaders to review each participant’s work on the second exercise.

11.15am          Morning tea

11.30am          Session 14 – How to get started and keep going

Presenters:       Justice Bernard Warnick (Family Court of Australia rtd) and

Mr Gideon Haigh (journalist, Melbourne)

 

Session description: When do you start your judgement and how do you start? The session will addressed techniques for conquering writers block and procrastination by thinking and writing,  And most importantly bring your judgement to a timely and satisfactory finish.

 

12.00pm          Session 15       Moving forward

Presenters: Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth (Supreme Court of Victoria) and

Justice Alan Wilson (Supreme Court of Queensland)

 

Session description: Finding what works for you; how you can develop and sustain a new judgment writing style or improvements to your judgment writing style; overcoming possible hurdles and set-backs; what makes it all worthwhile?

 

12.30pm          Close and lunch