Queensland’s premier is not ruling out a review of the conduct of the state’s controversial chief justice, Tim Carmody.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has left the door open after again calling for the state’s fractured judiciary to sort out the worsening conflict between Justice Carmody and his judges – headed by Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.
Many in the legal fraternity have urged the unpopular chief justice to fall on his sword following last week’s drama in disqualifying himself from judging the appeal of Daniel Morcombe’s convicted killer due to allegations of perceived bias.
Respected former Supreme Court judge George Fryberg is the latest to call for Justice Carmody to resign, while another recently retired judge, Alan Wilson, says the crisis could only otherwise be resolved by parliamentary intervention.
Ms Palaszczuk has stressed the courts should sort out their own mess but also said a swift resolution was required and indicated the government was watching the drama closely.
Queensland’s parliament has only ever voted to remove one judge, Angelo Vasta, after appointing three former judges to hold an inquiry into his conduct in 1989.
But the premier won’t commit to a Vasta-style review of Justice Carmody’s conduct yet, even though she admits the conflict is undermining public confidence in the judicial system.
“Let’s see if calmness prevails this week, but my message is clear – the public expects more,” she said.
“The public expects more.”
Justice Carmody withdrew from an appeal by Brett Peter Cowan, who was last year convicted of abducting and killing Daniel Morcombe in 2003, after it was revealed the judge had a meeting with child safety advocate Hetty Johnston last month.
It was Justice McMurdo, who had already drafted her judgment on the Cowan appeal, heard in November, who pushed the chief justice to disclose the meeting in an email which sparked a fiery exchange between the state’s two most powerful judges.