RECOMMENDING A PANEL
The Commissioner may recommend to the Attorney-General that a Judicial Conduct Panel be appointed to inquire further into the complaint. The Commissioner will recommend a Panel be appointed if the conduct complained of may warrant consideration of removal of the Judge. The Panel may recommend that the Judge be removed from office.
The Commissioner has to write to both you and the Judge with reasons for the recommendation that a Panel be convened.
The Attorney-General then consults the Chief Justice about choosing the three members of the Panel, which must include at least one Judge or retired Judge, and one lay person. The Panel may also include a senior barrister or solicitor.
The job of the Panel is to inquire further into the conduct of the Judge. The Panel has the same powers as a Commission of Inquiry and is required to act according to the principles of natural justice.
The Panel will typically hold hearings in public, although part or all of a hearing may be held in private to protect your privacy, the Judges privacy, or the public interest. The Panel also has the power to restrict publication of any documents that are part of the hearing, or any information about the hearing.
The Attorney-General will appoint a special counsel to present the case against the Judge. The Judge being complained about may appear at the hearing and be represented by a lawyer. The Panel may also give permission for other people to appear at the hearing and be represented by a lawyer.
Once the hearing is over, the Panel reports to the Attorney-General on the Panels:
- findings of fact;
- opinion as to whether conduct justifies consideration of removal; and
- reasons for its conclusion.
Removing a Judge
If the Panel recommends removing the Judge, the Attorney-General must decide whether to agree or disagree with the recommendation. If the Attorney-General agrees that the Judge should be removed, then one of two processes occurs, depending on the type of Judge being complained about.
- For Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, and Employment Court, the Attorney-General must address Parliament to propose that it recommend to the Governor-General that the Judge is removed. If Parliament makes that recommendation the Governor-General will then remove the Judge from office.
- For Associate Judges and all other Judges, the Attorney-General advises the Governor-General who can then formally remove the Judge from office.