American Judges Association


Court Review: Journal of the American Judges Association


Brian MacKenzie

Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 51, Issue 1 (2015)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


In stopped working as a sitting judge in December. Two weeks later, I visited my doctor, who told me my blood pressure had dropped 30 points. After some discussion, he suggested that I no longer needed to take blood-pressure medication. The reason it fell so quickly was, of course, that I had stopped the day to-day work of a sitting judge. Don’t mistake me, I loved my job and miss it. But no matter how much you love sitting as a judge, being one is demanding, isolating, and stressful. In fact, a judge’s profession is so stressful that New Zealand has placed judges in the high-risk job category. This level of stress can have very negative effects on the health of judges and their families.

A recent study in 2010 identified 12 significant causes of judicial stress.1 These are (1) workload; (2) high information and documentation requirements; (3) awareness of the possible consequences of judicial error; (4) inadequate lighting; (5) nearvision stress from excessive reading; (6) high responsibility; (7) awareness of self-insecurity due to function and role; (8) time pressure; (9) high demands on quality of work; (10) insufficient technical and material equipment; (11) required pace of work; (12) insufficient work areas. Additionally, between 10 and 25% of the judges in the study also mentioned excessive computer work and working beyond a normal 8-hour day.