Tim Carmody could be promoted to chief justice. Photo: Daniel Hurst
Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody has been officially approved as Queensland's next Chief Justice, despite being called upon to withdraw by a Court of Appeal judge.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie welcomed the appointment, describing Judge Carmody as "the ideal choice" for the important role.
"Judge Carmody’s unique blend of skills and experience will give the Court the direction and drive to continue the great work of Chief Justice Paul de Jersey of meeting the challenges of a changing legal world,” he said.
“Judge Carmody’s appointment will begin on 8 July, 2014 and, on behalf of the Government, I thank and congratulate him for agreeing to serve Queensland.”
Earlier, Queensland Court of Appeal judge John Muir called on incoming Chief Justice Tim Carmody to withdraw from the position.
Justice Muir used a speech to a North Queensland Bar Association dinner on Wednesday night to discuss the controversial promotion of the current Chief Magistrate.
“I would hope that 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,…the Chief Magistrate will see that the only appropriate course is for him to withdraw,” he said.
“To take this course will require courage, but I do not apprehend that this is a quality that the Chief Magistrate lacks.”
Justice Muir is one of six Court of Appeal judges who form part of the Supreme Court bench.
Judge Carmody told Fairfax Radio 4BC last Friday that no one from the bench had congratulated him on his appointment, leaving him “surprised and hurt”.
Justice Muir told the Townsville dinner that Judge Carmody’s radio appearances were an “unseemly spectacle”, and expressed astonishment at him asking fellow judges if they were “friend or foe”.
“Does he take the approach: if you are not for me, you are against me?” Justice Muir said.
“The Chief Magistrate seemingly fails to appreciate that he ought not be engaged in a popularity contest.”
Justice Muir said it should have been left up to Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to explain and justify the merits of Judge Carmody’s appointment.
“It was not open to the appointee...if he wished to behave as a Chief Justice should behave and demonstrate independence, to effectively support the executive’s actions by publicly talking up his credentials,” he said.
“Ironically, the Chief Magistrate, when asserting his independence, was engaged in conduct that called it into question.”
Justice Muir also criticised Judge Carmody’s admission that he did not possess the same “intellectual rigour” as some of his colleagues.
“Would the selectors of the Australian cricket team contemplate, even momentarily, an Australian cricket team captain who was inferior in skills to the other team members?” he said.
“Might not an accused in a criminal trial, a party to a civil litigation or a party to an appeal before his Honour expect and appreciate the application of intellectual rigour?
“Should not a Chief Justice’s colleagues be able to seek his or her informed opinions on a range of complex issues?”
The speech, to the North Queensland Bar Association’s Bi-Annual Court of Appeal Dinner, marks the first public comments by a sitting judge about Tim Carmody’s appointment and subsequent events.
Peter Davis QC resigned as president of the Queensland Bar Association claiming confidential talks he’d had with Mr Bleijie about the Chief Justice were leaked, and that he had no faith in the appointment process.
The Queensland Law Society and Australian Bar Association have backed Mr Davis’ stand for transparency.