Outgoing Chief Justice praised for keeping the peace
OUTGOING Chief Justice Paul de Jersey has been praised for his ability to balance the "inevitable tension" between the judiciary and executive government - until recently - at his farewell.
Queensland Court of Appeal president Justice Margaret McMurdo pointed to the soured relationship with the LNP government during her speech.
"Your predecessor Justice (Murtagh) Macrossan had many fine qualities but his relationship with the executive was often undesirably and often unnecessarily strained," she said on Friday morning.
"Your appointment as Chief Justice appeared to herald an appropriately cooperative working relationship between the judiciary and the executive, delicately balancing the ever present and inevitable tension so that each arm acted independently but with mutual courtesy and respect, regardless of the dominant political party in the legislative arm, at least until recently."
Justice McMurdo also made a veiled reference to Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody's controversial appointment as Chief Justice successor.
Premier Campbell Newman has previously labelled Judge Carmody a knockabout bloke and focused on his background, including growing up in housing commission at Inala and starting his working life in a meatworks, to reinforce he was a judge for all Queenslanders.
"The judges of the court you lead are fine lawyers, of varying ages and backgrounds, with broad interests in and outside the law," Justice McMurdo said.
"They are not remote from the community they serve."
Justice McMurdo said Chief Justice de Jersey, the 17th in Queensland, made a "mighty contribution to public life".
He was an associate to Queensland's 13th Chief Justice, had his own busy practice, took silk at just 33 years of age and was appointed a supreme court justice at age 36 in 1985.
"Your astute legal mind, industry, energy and ability to produce reasoned judgments quickly, even in difficult cases, was and remains legendary," she said.
Justice McMurdo also spoke of his reforms of the Mental Health Court, noting he "partially reformed the law's antiquated approach to assessing whether those charged with criminal offences were mentally ill".
"With the assistance of specialist psychiatrists you determined complex issues of fitness to plead and criminal responsibility on often heinous cases," she said.
"Your regular visits to the regions mean you have been Chief Justice of Queensland, not just south-east Queensland.
"Chief Justice, as we move to the future without your leadership, the profession and the public can be confident that the judges of the trial division and the Court of Appeal are united in their resolve, as part of the independent judicial arm of the government of Queensland, to continue, according to their oaths and affirmations of office, to do equal justice to all and to discharge the knowledge and ability without fear, favour or affection."
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said Chief Justice de Jersey's fine leadership, impressive intellect and personal energy had transformed the courts during his 16-year tenure.
He said the Chief Justice had worked with four premiers and nine Attorneys-General during the 16 years
"Your Honour has been one of the constants in an ever-evolving legal landscape," he said.
"A fact that says as much about the fleeting nature of politics as it does about the fundamental stability of the judicial system."
Justice de Jersey becomes Queensland Governor - head of the executive arm of government - on July 29.
He attributed his professional career to good fortune but noted a sense of duty impelled pivotal decisions in his judicial career.
Justice de Jersey spoke of a 500% overnight reduction in income when he became a judge in 1985 with a salary of $84,600 but noted it had since appropriately increased.
"I leave a court that is highly regarded nationally, and I may say, internationally," he said.
"I leave a profession remarkable for its efficiency, ethical commitment and established independence.
"Any legacy of mine is, of course, for others to judge but any such legacy is the legacy of many people.
"I have been greatly privileged to have been a member of this court, and to have led it for so long, and to have led, in a sense, the whole State judiciary and the entire State legal profession. "
Premier Campbell Newman, speaking at a press conference, said the Chief Justice had been a "terrific leader" and would be a "fantastic" Governor.
"I think one of the big things that he's done, is that he has been out in regional Queensland a heck of a lot," he said.
"He has been someone who has been prepared to go out and take the court to parts of the state that may not have seen the judicial system.
"That's been incredibly important, the other thing too is he's a very compassionate and caring man.
"And I think when people have met him they realise that ultimately the justice system is meant to be compassionate as well as dealing with the issues of justice.
"That is part of justice, to show a compassionate side and Paul De Jersey is a very…is a great human being, a compassionate man and that's one of the reasons why he's going to be a great Governor as well."