Judicial appointment process under scrutiny

The Queensland Bar Association is calling for a new process for appointing judges, after a scandal erupted over the appointment of Tim Carmody QC as the next Chief Justice. Senior lawyers and former judges have criticised Carmody as politically biased and unqualified—in 2006, as a Family Court judge, he was caught cutting and pasting sections of a judgment—and the president of the Bar Association quit in protest over Attorney-General’s consultation process. Carmody told the media, “It’s regrettable that not one of the Supreme Court judges has congratulated me yet.” The Bar Association is calling for a “different and more structured way of identifying and selecting possible appointees to judicial office to ensure all appointments are made impartially and on the basis of suitability for the particular office”. In Victoria, controversial MP Geoff Shaw denied the Premier’s accusation that he tried to influence judicial appointments. An election promise to establish an Independent Judicial Appointments Advisory Panel has not yet been implemented by the Government. Update: It has now been revealed that “no-one—other than the premier—strongly pushed Justice Carmody’s candidacy”, and he was promoted at the last minute after being publicly criticised by former Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff QC. A sitting Court of Appeal judge, Justice Muir, gave a speech last night saying “because of the unfortunate way in which this saga has unfolded, the obvious lack of support for the Chief Magistrate’s elevation to the office of Chief Justice of Queensland and [other] matters discussed earlier, the Chief Magistrate will see that the only appropriate course is for him to withdraw.