The Courier-Mail

McMurdo moves in defence of judges

- SARAH VOGLER

CHIEF Justice Tim Carmody is yet to deliver his muchantici­pated speech outlining what he believes should be done to fix the court system – but one of the state’s most senior judges has already moved to counter his argument.

Court of Appeal president Justice Margaret McMurdo said the suggestion the courts were dysfunctio­nal was baseless, despite recent challenges, and thanked the state’s peak legal bodies for coming to the defence of the judiciary last week.

Justice Carmody has offered to resign in a bid to end the impasse after 10 months of public and private bickering over his controvers­ial ascension to the top job.

The bickering was spectacula­rly thrust into the public arena last month during the appeal of Daniel Morcombe’s killer Brett Peter Cowan.

Email exchanges between Justice Carmody and Justice McMurdo were made public and it was then revealed another top judge, Justice John Byrne, had secretly taped a controvers­ial conversati­on with the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice has described the judiciary as suffering from structural and cultural problems and has promised to outline reforms he wants implemente­d in exchange for his resignatio­n. His speech has been delayed by his wife’s ill health.

Justice McMurdo hit back yesterday during a speech to newly admitted lawyers, denying the judiciary was not functionin­g well.

“As members of the legal profession, together with the assistance of an independen­t judiciary, you play an institutio­nal role in Queensland’s precious democracy,” she told the new lawyers assembled in the Banco Court.

“I was pleased to see that independen­ce exercised recently by the profession­al legal asso- ciations, the Queensland Law Society and the Bar Associatio­n of Queensland, in assuring the public that claims that Queensland courts are dysfunctio­nal are baseless.”

Justice McMurdo also took aim at the notion the courts were “soft on crime”, saying inaccurate or uninformed reporting of some judgments was damaging community confidence in the courts.

“Any community perception of endemic soft sentences is neither accurate nor informed,” she said.

“Queensland courts sentence thousands of offenders every year.

“The vast majority of sentences are uncontrove­rsial.”

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