Andrew L. Urban.
February 4, 2020: Further to our February 3 report on the former judge who has called for the Sue Neill-Fraser new appeal in Tasmania’s Supreme Court to be heard by mainland judges, we report on other such judge importations.
IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
ABC News reported just yesterday: The search for an interstate judge to conduct the rape trial of former NT assistant police commissioner Peter Bravos has begun, the NT Supreme Court has been told.
Mr Bravos’s lawyer, John Lawrence SC, last week applied for Justice Judith Kelly to step aside from the trial on the basis that her connection to a witness could influence proceedings.
Justice Kelly has rejected the application of apprehended bias, but despite this found it would be better if an interstate judge conducted the trial “as a matter of convenience”.
She said this would avoid the raising of “irrelevant issues” during the hearing.
“As well as to ensure the defendant himself believes he has the benefit of an impartial trial.” (emphasis added)
IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
On 14 January 2019 Tom Richardson in InDaily reported: Three Supreme Court judges have been seconded from Victoria to help resolve a legal stoush over advice from SA’s now-Chief Justice, Chris Kourakis, that was used to keep Henry
Keogh in jail for a further eight years. The temporary appointments have been made, the Government told InDaily, “at the request of the Chief Justice to avoid the perception of bias”. (emphasis added)
In 2003, then-Solicitor-General Kourakis conducted a three-year review of the evidence in the Keogh case, after his lawyers questioned the evidence of forensic pathologist Colin Manock. At the time, Keogh had served the first decade of his 25-year sentence, after his 1995 conviction for the drowning murder of his fiancée Anna-Jane Cheney.
Kourakis’ report, which remains confidential, was used by the former Labor Government to justify its rejection for Keogh’s clemency bid, with acting-Attorney-General Kevin Foley telling a 2006 media conference: “The overwhelming body of evidence shows very clearly that Mr Henry Keogh is guilty of a terrible, terrible crime.”
Keogh’s conviction was finally overturned in 2014 by the Court of Criminal Appeal, which found there had been a miscarriage of justice due to flawed forensic evidence.
ED: The judges found in favour of Keogh and the report was made public on April 12, 2019.
IN VICTORIA – 1
On December 14, 2019, Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy announced the appointment of the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC as the royal commission chair, along with former South Australian police commissioner Malcolm Hyde AO APM as a commissioner, in the Police Informants Royal Commission, triggered by the Lawyer X scandal.
Both are from other states. Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC is the former president of the Queensland Court of Appeal. Malcolm Hyde AO is the former South Australian police commissioner.
IN VICTORIA – 2
Katherine Towers in the Financial Review reported: Victoria is leading the country in protecting its judiciary from the perception of bias by importing interstate judges to investigate judicial officers accused of misbehaviour or incapacity.
Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls will introduce legislation to establish a judicial complaints system comprised entirely of interstate judges. Seven judges from the Federal, Family and state and territory courts will form a panel, and three will be selected to investigate complaints against sitting judicial officers. (emphasis added)
The interstate review model is an Australian first and comes after the state government rejected a move towards an independent judicial commission such as the one that operates in NSW.