Tim Carmody

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Any suggestion that this would be sufficient to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias or prejudice ... is unsupported by precedent and utterly preposterous. I find it disturbing that a scheduled meeting disseminated in the public domain through the Chief Justice's calendar, between the head of the jurisdiction and an arm's length non-party community leader, will cause you 'deep concern' regarding my independence or impartiality. It is even more alarming that your associate decided to investigate, on your instruction or otherwise, any comments made by Ms Johnston regarding Cowan.

Chief Justice Tim Carmody, Email to President Margaret McMurdo dated 22 April 2015

McMurdo responded the next day, stating that she rejected all of Carmody's "ill conceived allegations of impropriety". [66]

After Cowan's lawyers applied for Carmody to recuse himself from the case given apprehended bias following his meeting with Johnston, Carmody withdrew from hearing the appeal on 7 May 2015. [66] [67] The Chief Justice stated that although he believed the application had no merit and the allegations of bias, he was acting "in the best interests of this court and overall public confidence in the administration of justice" [67] [68] The Chief Justice also labelled the allegation of bias as "absurd and extraordinary". [67] The application to have Chief Justice Carmody withdraw was heavily criticised by Daniel Morcombe's parents and also by Bravehearts. [68]

Upon the release of his 'Mention Remarks', [67] the Chief Justice also published emails between himself and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Margaret McMurdo. [67] These emails revealed continuing disagreement between the Chief Justice and other members of the Court of Appeal, with President McMurdo informing the Executive Director of the Supreme and District Courts Service that she did not wish to sit on any future cases with Chief Justice Carmody. [66] [67] The released emails also reveal that Carmody had failed to read the draft judgments circulated months earlier by President McMurdo and Justice Fraser. [69] Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called for the disagreements within the judiciary to end. [66]

Secret recording by Justice Byrne

In May 2015 reports emerged that Carmody had been secretly recorded by John Byrne, the Senior Judge Administrator when they met along with Justice David Boddice. [70] The meeting related to who would sit on the Court of Disputed Returns if the result for the electoral district of Ferny Grove was challenged, and involved hostility and explicit language. [70] Carmody was recorded as referring to the other Supreme Court judges as "scum". [70] Carmody stated he had no intention of resigning and would continue to perform his role as Chief Justice. [70]

Resignation as Chief Justice

Carmody took one month's sick leave on 14 May 2015 to seek back treatment. [71] While on leave he offered to resign on 25 May 2015 on "just terms" and on the condition that the State Government agreed to a court reform agenda, such as implementing a judicial commission. [72] His offer was welcomed by Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath as putting the judiciary before himself. [72] Carmody was due to subsequently outline his vision for court reform at a Hamilton Island legal conference but withdrew due to his wife's illness. [73] In June 2015 he acted as Governor of Queensland despite being on sick leave from his normal role as Chief Justice. [74]

Carmody resigned as Chief Justice on 1 July 2015 but remained a Judge of the Supreme Court, sitting as a supplemental judicial member of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. [19] He was replaced as Chief Justice by Catherine Holmes, who praised his grace in stepping down and promised that she would offer him "whatever help I can give". [75]

Later career

Carmody continued as Supreme Court judge and supplementary QCAT member until he resigned from the bench with effect from 10 September 2019. [20] His resignation was announced by Attorney-General Yvette d'Ath on 17 July 2018. [20]


Tim Carmody
18th Chief Justice of Queensland
In office
8 July 2014 1 July 2015
AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg Centenary Medal [1]
AUS Order of Australia (civil) BAR.svg Member of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours for "significant service to the law, and to the judiciary" [76]

Further reading

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Legal offices
Preceded by
Brendan Butler
Chief Magistrate, Magistrates Court of Queensland
Succeeded by
Orazio Rinaudo
Preceded by Chief Justice of Queensland
Succeeded by