Not a single Supreme Court judge has turned up to a public welcoming ceremony for Queensland’s new chief justice.
Not a single Supreme Court judge has turned up to a public welcoming ceremony for Queensland’s controversial new chief justice.
Tim Carmody has urged observers not to make too much of the apparent snub, which follows weeks of controversy over his promotion, saying he wanted a low-key, informal affair.
But he verged on tears as he spoke of the distress his family had endured as critics attacked his capacity to do the job.
“I am sorry that my appointment has caused you distress,” he said during the ceremony in Brisbane’s largest ceremonial court.
“I have learnt a valuable life lesson. To be truly free, you have to forget what other people think or say about you.”
The 58-year-old former chief magistrate has enjoyed a meteoric rise under the Newman government. In June he was promoted from chief magistrate to chief justice, despite not having served on the Supreme Court.
Senior legal figures have been highly critical of the appointment, questioning his experience and noting his lack of peer support. Some critics have also suggested he’s too close to the government.
Chief Justice Carmody has told those gathered for the ceremony that he would seek to build strong relationships and lead with impartiality.
“It is imperative that a proper distance is maintained between the executive and the lower courts,” he said.
“Whatever general concerns may have been held or expressed in the past about me, I will, without apology or fear, be a fierce and formidable warrior against any threat to that independence, whether it comes from within or without.
“I will work hard every day of my tenure to prove worthy of the trust and confidence placed in me.”
Chief Justice Carmody was welcomed at the same time as new Supreme Court judge Peter Flanagan. Empty chairs surrounded them where Supreme Court justices would normally sit for ceremonies.
The new head of the Queensland Bar Association Shane Doyle said Chief Justice Carmody would have the respect of the bar, with many members attending Friday’s ceremony.
“It (the appointment) has not been uncontroversial,” he told the ceremony.
“That controversy is now, or should now be, in the past.
“Public confidence in the court requires it. You have the support of the association,” he told the new chief justice.
Mr Doyle took over as head of the bar association after Peter Davis QC quit the role, alleging confidential discussions about the appointment of the next chief justice were leaked by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie or one of his staffers.
Mr Bleijie denied that he or anyone from his office leaked details of that meeting.
Addressing criticisms that Chief Justice Carmody lacked the experience to be the state’s top judge, Mr Bleijie told Friday’s ceremony that seniority was an important factor but he also said such appointments must be made on merit.
“Justice Carmody is well equipped to consider and deliver the next wave of reforms and innovation,” he said.