Justice Carmody Retires: Going out with a bang!
Justice Tim Carmody, 52, of the Family Court in Brisbane has now retired, returning to the private bar. Having all his faculties, as he told the Queensland Law Society in its Proctor magazine, and having done all that he felt that he could usefully in such a specialised jurisdiction, he felt it was time to move on.
But rather than go quietly, Tim Carmody has decided to go out with a bang, or may be that should be two bangs.
Bang 1: Megan’s Law
Recently, notorious pedophile Dennis Ferguson was released when District Court Judge Hugh Botting issued a permanent stay on proceedings against him, on the basis that his notoriety is such that Mr Ferguson could not be granted a fair trial.
A “free” man, Dennis has been looking for places to stay. As happened last time he was let out, no one wants Dennis in their backyard. He has been hounded out of Miles, on the Darling Downs, and has been pursued by all and sundry at Carbrook, just outside of Brisbane, resulting in round the clock police protection.
One of the issues that was raised in this tumult was whether members of the community had a right to know where convicted sex offenders lived. Megan’s Law, a US initiative, would make disclosure by the Government mandatory. The Government and police position is that to adopt Megan’s Law in Queensland would be to drive paedophiles like Dennis Ferguson underground.
Tim Carmody, who pursued pedophiles as head of the then Queensland Crime Commission before his elevation to the bench, told the Courier-Mail that in his view, in 2008 Megan’s Law was appropriate for some pedophiles:
“In relation to children, you don’t want a cure (for sexual abuse) because it comes too late. You want to prevent. And the only way you can prevent is to monitor (sex predators in the community).”
“While someone presents as an unacceptable risk to the safety of children, their rights are going to have to be curtailed to the extent needed to protect children.”
He went on to say that the more concerning offenders were those who had refused to undertake treatment in jail, but the “tricky part” was the level of access to information.
Bang 2: Tim Carmody’s thoughts on family law
In the Proctor piece, Tim Carmody had many pearls of wisdom, including these:
-“family judges deserve high praise for their dedicated and often unseen judicial efforts and achievements for the benefit of litigants and children at risk”
-“family law practitioners and other service providers who, almost without exception, do an extraordinary job under extreme pressure in meeting the competing and often conflicting demands of their clients and the court.”
-in commenting on the 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act, “the most dangerous and dubious proposition is that almost all separated or divorced couples are basically good and decent people at heart who love their children more than they hate each other and are both ready, willing and able to put aside their own differences for the sake of fulfilling their social and parental responsibilities in meeting all the relevant developmental needs of their children.. Quite simply these articles of faith are not substantiated either by experience or science and are far too general to warrant the force of a statutory presumption, albeit a rebuttable one- in a “best interests” jurisdiction.”
-“Merely making courts more friendly, accessible and affordable places and converting lawyers into peacemakers instead of rivals, litigants from contestants to joint carers and sharers, and court proceedings into a resolution-focussed rather than a forensic decision-making process, does not mean that aggrieved parties are likely to be any less antagonistic towards each other or any more conciliatory in their beliefs and actions over the longer term.”
-“Former spouses or partners… need to change before there can be any finality to interminable bickering about domestic issues. No suite of family laws and practices, no matter how well-meaning , will eliminate intractable parental hostility or conflict, nor will they enlighten the ignorant or pacify the vengeful…”
-“You cannot legislate for goodwill”
– “(F)amily litigation should be avoided at all reasonable costs. The best time to do that is before filing court documents…”