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Not all roses over Supreme Court appointment

By Jazz - 11 January 2008 28

Back in December we ran this story on the somewhat controversial appointment of Hillary Penfold to the ACT Supreme Court.

It seems that there was more to it than we first suspected because local Bar Association President George Brzostowsk has come out with comments to the effect that her appointment wasnt quite as transparent as some others have been in the past. In this instance Attorney General Simon Corbell has seemingly neglected to consult the Law Society or The Chief Justice about the appointment. Or was it just a case of expediency to get a pro-govt justice on the bench? Make of that what you will.

ABC online have the story here and a bit more from the CT here.

[Ed. Not to be outdone, Zed Seselja has thrown in his 2c saying that the Legal Affairs Committee should choose judges.]

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
Not all roses over Supreme Court appointment
VicePope 7:58 pm 11 Jan 08

And I just read the views of our alternative Chief Minister, the aptly named Zed. There is no chance of therabble that he leads winning office (see comments by Mr Mulcahy) so he’s trying to play them into participating in government, as if his collection of drones has anything more to offer than Stanhope’s.

A committee decision will (a) leak like a sieve and (b) quickly become partisan (Liberal and Labor candidates for judicial office?) and (c) turn into an incompetently conducted confirmation hearing of the kind the Americans don’t do all that well with possible judges being quizzed minutely on ever social and moral belief they may have and pressed to say they favour maximum sentences for all offenders. Let’s not go that way. No-one with any self-respect and discretion would voluntarily be a part of it.

A fair number of judges get appointed every year in Australia. The process is usually very quiet and backroom. It throws up precious few real duds, whose shortcomings become obvious and who can usually get shifted somewhere they can’t mess up. It’s not perfect, but nor is it a sideshow.

Crikey 2:48 pm 11 Jan 08

I just don’t know how Hillary is going to be a Judge and US President at the same time!

Mælinar 2:47 pm 11 Jan 08

So it was that jessica character then ?

VicePope 2:27 pm 11 Jan 08

Caf – yup. One of their better efforts, especially given that Her Honour shares her surname with a wine label.

caf 2:18 pm 11 Jan 08

By the way, to the CT subeditor who came up with “Government in bar fight…”: good show, that (wo)man!

Mr Evil 1:41 pm 11 Jan 08

What about the real issue at play here: has Corbell done anything to make the Supreme Court carbon neutral???? 🙂

VicePope 1:00 pm 11 Jan 08

The local union leaders are complaining that a non-unionist got the job. What’s new.

Penfold J, with whom I have had occasional past dealings, is scarily clever and should manage the court practice stuff with no real effort, especially if she picks a process anorak as her associate. After all, she could be seen as replacing another judge (Connolly J) whose past limited legal experience did not stop him from becoming very highly regarded. It was a good choice.

Hugh Selby, normally a very clever and articularte bloke, got it wrong when suggesting, in the wake of this matter, putting judges on probation for a period. The effect on perceptions of independence would be disastrous.

Mr Evil 12:33 pm 11 Jan 08

“They state she has no court experience but she couldn’t do any worse then the weak-kneed politically correct Judges who presently serve the court.”

You seriously believe she’s not going to be a part of that PC, bleeding heart liberal mob?

Crikey 12:12 pm 11 Jan 08

The Law Society and Bar Association are just grumpy that simple Simon didn’t appoint someone from the legal old-boy’s club.

They state she has no court experience but she couldn’t do any worse then the weak-kneed politically correct Judges who presently serve the court.

caf 10:55 am 11 Jan 08

Heavs: Grammar is an Anglican school… I can see what you’re driving at with the rest of the comment, but as far as the old sectarianism goes I really think that’s pretty much history now in Australia.

Pandy 9:45 am 11 Jan 08

You mean Corbell has no qualifications?

Heavs 9:35 am 11 Jan 08

Of course she’s studied law.

Justice Connolly came to the bench without having practiced in this jurisdiction either.

FWIW the chief law officer in the Territory has not got a law degree though.

sepi 9:34 am 11 Jan 08

I heard Corbell on radio saying he had consulted.

He said he talked to the bar association, then made his own decision.

I thought it was funny – it reminded me of the community consultation he used to do – talk to people, then do exactly what you always planned to do anyway!

S4anta 9:33 am 11 Jan 08

I think the major point that has them in a tizz is that we now have a justice who has never studied or practised law. Granted as a window licking public servant, she drafted several fundamental legislative pieces that are now in play. However, their point to me seems quite salient, and for once logical (At this point i wouyld like to pint out that I am not some female bashing wowser).

I do believe that those on the bench need to spend their time in the court system. She has been removed from what she is going to oversee for some time, unless she handles some of AIRC/ administrative appeals… If thats the case, firstly wrong court, secondly its not where the bottle necks are.

Heavs 9:26 am 11 Jan 08

Yeah. How dare they not appoint another 50 year old white Catholic male from Grammar/Eddies. Disgraceful.

I agree with Corbell. This bloke is having a sook because he realises that come next general Bar Association elections he will get rolled as President because he has got no influence with the Government.

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