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Lalor quits bench

The ACT Magistrates Court has lost another judicial officer, with Magistrate Grant Lalor resigning from his post seven months out from the mandatory retirement age.

The hunt is on to find his replacement, but the selection process will be simplified with the government set to pick a candidate from those who missed out on recent jobs.

Mr Lalor, who is on leave, has resigned effective May 29 and told Attorney-General Simon Corbell he will not be returning in the interim.

He was due to retire in December when he reached the age of 65.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker praised her departing colleague yesterday and thanked the government for moving swiftly to fill the gap.

''I regret the loss of Magistrate Lalor, whose camaraderie and hard work will be sorely missed, not to mention his wicked sense of humour,'' Ms Walker said.

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Mr Lalor is an ANU graduate who spent 20 years as a Commonwealth prosecutor, after stints as a Papua New Guinea public solicitor and in the Australian deputy crown solicitor's office.

During his time on the bench he developed a reputation as a tough sentencer with little patience for inefficiency or time-wasting.

The resignation and pending appointment comes during a tumultuous time for the court.

When Mr Lalor was appointed in 2004 he was the first new face on the Magistrates Court bench in five years. His successor will be the fourth appointment in less than two years.

The next magistrate will be chosen from those who missed out on vacancies left by Ms Walker's elevation last July and the resignation of Maria Doogan.

Mr Corbell thanked the outgoing magistrate for his ''diligent service'' and ''significant contribution'' to the territory's justice system. ACT Law Society vice-president Martin Hockridge and the ACT Bar Association's Philip Walker wished Mr Lalor well.