How judges are appointed and removed

How do you get appointed to become a judge and what is the process?


Normally, judges are appointed by the Governor on the basis of the advice of the Executive Council, the Attorney-General usually makes recommendations to Cabinet and advises the Governor.
To be appointed to act as a judge in the District Court or Supreme Court, the subject must have been an Australian lawyer for at least 7 years, or 5 years for being appointed as a judge in the Local Court. The appointments are based on merit and legal experience.

The following professional qualities will be assessed:
• Proficiency in the law and principles;
• High level of professional expertise and ability in the area(s) of professional specialisation;
• Applied experience (through the practice of law or other branches of legal practice);
• Intellectual and analytical ability;
• Ability to discharge duties promptly;
• Capacity to work under pressure;
• Effective oral, written and interpersonal communication skills with peers and members of the public;
• Ability to clearly explain procedure and decisions to all parties;
• Effective management of workload;
• Ability to maintain authority and inspire respect;
• Willingness to participate in ongoing judicial education; and
• Ability to use, or willingness to learn modern information technology.

Personal qualities are also assessed, such as:
• Integrity;
• Independence and impartiality;
• Good character;
• Common sense and good judgement;
• Courtesy and patience; and
• Social awareness.

Appointment by Interview

In situations where there are vacancies for judges, advertisements are published in local newspapers and a list of candidates for interview is drafted by a panel. The panel consists of the relevant head of jurisdiction, the Director General of the Attorney General’s Department, a leading member of the legal profession and a prominent community member. The panel holds the interviews and rank the candidates as highly suitable, suitable or unsuitable for judicial office, the results are reported back to the Attorney General.

Appointment by Nomination

Proposals may be filed in relation to nominating another person for appointment to the Magistracy. The proposal must include the following information:
• Full name, address and contact number of the nominator;
• Capacity in which the nominator knows the nominee;
• The full name, address, nationality, date of birth and contact number of the nominee;
• Present position of the nominee and date of admission to practice;
• Personal and professional qualities of the nominee; and
• A statement that the nominee has agreed to being considered for appointment.

The process of appointing judges has been criticised by the public as well as other lawyers and judges on the basis that the public has no influence or say in the process. Judges are highly positioned in the society as the judging power and influence all people in Australia. Therefore the public should be able to intervene in the process.

Removal of Judges

When judges have been appointed they are independent and my only be removed from office by a special procedure. The situation where a judge is removed is rare but it may happen on the grounds of willful absence, neglect of duty or misbehaviour. Removal of judges must be addressed by both the two houses of parliament and the executive government. The councils may not remove a judge but may send to the coordinating body, the Judicial Conference, which may forward the matter to the House of Representatives for assessment of whether a judge should be removed.

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