AS NOTED by Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty last week, the state has now seen the head of all three arms of government depart following the resignation of Chief Justice David Malcolm.
After almost 18 years in the job, Australia’s longest serving Chief Justice formally retired at a farewell sitting of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 7 February this year.
A-G McGinty is yet to announce a replacement, but is expected to do so in the next two to three weeks.
Last year Justice Malcolm denied reports he was suffering from a medical condition when a murder trial he was judging had to be aborted due to errors in his summing up to a jury.
Sixty-seven-year-old Justice Malcolm, who has cited the role’s affect on his family life as a reason for his departure, said the court had been suffering from a lack of resources, but was now on the way to functioning more efficiently.
“We have had, from time to time, difficulties in obtaining the necessary resources to function as efficiently as possible. The past year has seen an adverse change in the civil list, although the criminal list has been managed very effectively,” he said.
“The delay in the hearing of criminal cases in 2005 was affected by the work required to rectify the deficiencies in the detention facilities at the Supreme Court following the escape of prisoners in July 2004, but out of adversity sometimes spring important things. We now have the most efficient, effective and satisfactory detention facilities of any court.”
But he said his “one disappointment” was that the Court still had the accommodation problems that had become apparent when he took up the post in 1988. Since 1990, Justice Malcolm said the Court had had to operate from two locations.
“This has meant that the Court has been denied the efficiencies of having all its courtrooms in the one secure and appropriate complex at the Supreme Court site, suitably expanded to meet the needs of the 21st century.
“It is essential for the future efficient operation of the administration of justice at the level of the Supreme Court that this situation be rectified at the earliest possible date.”
Justice Malcolm will move to chair of law at the University of Notre-Dame, which has campuses in Fremantle, Broome and will open a new campus in Sydney on 27 February.