McMurdo praises lawyer groups after Carmody controversy
ONE of Queensland's most senior judges, who has been centre in the latest controversy surrounding Chief Justice Tim Carmody, has thanked the legal fraternity for backing the court system over claims it was dysfunctional.
When officially welcoming a room full of new solicitors, Margaret McMurdo said the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland recently assured the public that claims the court system was dysfunction were "baseless".
Justice McMurdo, Court of Appeal president, refused to sit on cases with Chief Justice Tim Carmody after a dispute over Brett Peter Cowan's appeal; the man convicted of killing Daniel Morcombe.
When addressing the group of new solicitors on Monday, Justice McMurdo said they would play an institutional role in Queensland's democracy.
She also said they must place their duty to the court and administration of justice before their own interests.
"I was pleased to see that independence exercised recently by the professional legal associations, the Queensland Law Society and the Bar Association of Queensland, in assuring the public that claims Queensland courts are dysfunctional are baseless," she said.
"The public can be assured that, despite recent challenges, the judges of the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal have never faltered from their core work: delivering timely justice to litigants in accordance with their oaths and affirmations of office."
Justice McMurdo also took aim at media reports, which could unfairly undermine 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. Only a tiny proportion are challenged in the media or found on appeal to be manifestly inadequate or excessive.
"In truth, the community can be confident that judicial officers are seldom soft on crime and sentences which are plainly too heavy or too light can be corrected on appeal."