Tim Carmody will be sworn in as Queensland’s next chief justice on Tuesday, but as controversy rages it will be done in private.
The private swearing in of Queensland’s controversially appointed new chief justice is being described as unprecedented.
While never having sat on the Supreme Court, Tim Carmody will be sworn in as its most senior judge on Tuesday minus the usual public pomp and ceremony.
His elevation from chief magistrate has been condemned by some senior legal figures, who claim he lacks the necessary experience and is too close to the government.
Both sitting and retired justices have publicly criticised his appointment, while Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has spent the past month defending Judge Carmody’s suitability.
In the wake of the controversy, departing chief justice Paul de Jersey issued a statement on Thursday explaining that his successor’s swearing in ceremony would be conducted in private, attended by members of Judge Carmody’s family.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice president Terry O’Gorman says the move is unprecedented.
“This is just absolutely without precedent, so far as I can recall, and I’ve been practising as a criminal defence lawyer for almost 40 years,” he told Fairfax Radio on Friday.
“To have a chief justice of a state of Australia be sworn in in private, behind closed doors, with the public excluded is just extraordinary.
“But unfortunately, it’s the end result of a totally flawed appointment process.”
Queensland’s next most senior judge, after outgoing Chief Justice de Jersey, is Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.
But it’s been revealed she is unavailable to conduct Judge Carmody’s swearing in because of the courts’ annual winter holiday.
In March, Mr Bleijie publicly revealed details of a private conversation after she delivered a speech claiming the government had an “unconscious bias” against appointing women to the judiciary.
Judge Carmody was announced as the government’s choice to take over as chief justice in June, just nine months after he was appointed as chief magistrate.
Appeal judge Catherine Holmes will swear Judge Carmody in.