Judicial oversight

Last Thursday, the Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced a working party to consider ways to deal with complaints against judicial officers.

According to The Australian, he said “minor” complaints might cover inappropriate remarks in court, unacceptable delay, extended absences from the bench or “other conduct not directly related to judicial function which might be perceived to bring the office into disrepute”.

Mr Hulls said “possible outcomes could include counselling, education, administrative actions to avoid a repeat or different work allocation practices”.

While the case of former magistrate Carmen Randazzo was not specifically referred to, the announcement follows recent comments by the Chief Magistrate Ian Gray about the need for improved oversight of the judiciary.

The A-G announced that an on-line handbook spelling out the conditions of service for judicial officers would be released soon.

In the UK, the Office for Judicial Complaints handles complaints about the personal conduct of judicial officers. In New Zealand, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner performs this function. In NSW, complaints about judicial officers are the purview of an independent statutory corporation called the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.

Complaint-handling processes vary widely across other states and jurisdictions.

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