Accessing court files as a feminist endeavour: Reflections on the Feminist Judgments Project Aotearoa: Te Rino, the two-stranded rope
In this piece, we reflect on the significance of accessing court records for feminist endeavours. We discuss two examples that illustrate the value of accessing and critiquing court processes. Feminist judgment writing, as a feminist endeavour, demonstrates the significance of hearing women’s stories as well as the importance of nuanced factual analysis that takes account of the lived experiences of women. Access to the court file in one of the rewritten judgments exposed missing relevant facts in the appellate decision, and demonstrates how the appellant’s story was never fully reflected in the judgment or verdict. In our rape trial research, access to court records makes visible the complainant’s evidence and the response of the judge to her as a person. It also allows inquiry as to how the rules of evidence enacted for the protection of the complainant, such as non-disclosure of their occupation, are actually working in practice.