Former Supreme and Federal Court judge Bruce Lander QC has been appointed South Australia’s first Judicial Conduct Commissioner. His appointment creates an avenue for serious complaints against judicial officers to be investigated.
South Australia legislated to institute the judicial watchdog role as a formal, independent mechanism to address “substantial complaints made against judicial officers, such as judges and magistrates”.
The Commissioner has the power to report very serious matters to Parliament that may lead to the removal a judicial officer. The Commissioner also has the power to recommend that the Attorney-General appoint a judicial conduct panel to investigate a complaint. Any such panel would have the powers of a royal commission.
SA Attorney-General John Rau said Mr Lander’s appointment would help create a more transparency for the state justice system.
“This government is committed to making the justice system transparent,” Mr Rau said.
“The office of Judicial Conduct Commissioner gives people a formal avenue for valid complaints to be investigated,” he said.
Under SA’s Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015 the watchdog can be appointed for a term of up to seven years, with a maximum possible extension to 10 years.
Mr Lander, who also serves as the state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC), has elected to have his watchdog appointment coincide with his ICAC term until 1 September 2020.
The Commissioner is free from any direction by any person and can only be removed by both houses of the SA Parliament. Mr Lander was appointed to his new role by the SA executive council in August.