Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has appointed chief magistrate Tim Carmody QC to the state’s top judge.
Tim Carmody is criticised for being inexperienced and too close to the government to be Queensland’s top judge, but has stared down the naysayers.
He was promoted from chief magistrate to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Thursday, despite never serving in the court.
Attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie had a similar meteoric rise when appointed the state’s top law officer after serving as an articled clerk and solicitor.
Judge Carmody, QC, who was recruited as chief magistrate from the bar nine months ago, said he couldn’t ignore the criticisms and acknowledged it was something the community would be worried about.
He vowed to be a fiercely independent leader.
“If my views happen to coincide with the government’s views that’s pure coincidence,” he said.
“There will be many times when I disagree with the government’s position.
“In the end it (the criticism) was wrong. I can do this job, I will do this job, and I shouldn’t not do this job because someone else says I shouldn’t.”
Premier Campbell Newman described Mr Carmody as a self-made man and knock-about bloke, who once lived in housing commission in Inala, west of Brisbane.
“We need somebody who has a fine legal mind, who Queenslanders can relate to, who gets where they are coming from,” Mr Newman said.
“He got to this day the hard way, through the sweat of his brow.
“He’ll inspire Queenslanders because they will see they can do as he has done.
“But most of all we need a leader, to lead the entire legal system for the next decade and beyond.”
Several lawyers, including former Crown Solicitor Walter Sofronoff QC and former Supreme Court judge Richard Chesterman QC, have raised concerns about Judge Carmody’s inexperience, lack of peer support and perceived closeness to the government, especially over anti-bikie legislation.
Tony Fitzgerald said the appointment of Judge Carmody, who served as the counsel assisting his 1980s corruption inquiry, could damage public perception of the courts.
“People whose ambition exceeds their ability aren’t all that unusual,” he told AAP on Thursday.
“However, it’s deeply troubling that the megalomaniacs currently holding power in Queensland are prepared to damage even fundamental institutions like the Supreme Court and cast doubt on fundamental principles like the independence of the judiciary.”
After serving on the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption, Judge Carmody became special prosecutor of official corruption arising from the landmark inquiry.
From 1998 to 2002 he was Queensland’s Crime Commissioner and was appointed a Judge of the Family Court in 2003, before returning to private practice in 2008.
Before his appointment as District Court Judge and Chief Magistrate in September 2013, he served as Chairman of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.
He’ll replace Supreme Court chief justice Paul de Jersey, who becomes Governor next month.