New South Wales precedent
The New South Wales constitution and relevant legislation provide that judicial officers may be removed upon address by both Houses of the Parliament on ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity, but only after a report by the Conduct Division of the Judicial Commission, a panel of judges and barristers which considers complaints about such officers, indicating that matters may justify parliamentary consideration of removal.
In 1998 the Conduct Division found that incapacity had been proved in respect of a justice of the state Supreme Court, Justice Vincent Bruce, as evidenced by unreasonable delay in delivering judgments. A challenge by the justice to the validity of the Conduct Division’s report failed in the Court of Appeal (Bruce v Cole 1998 45 NSWLR 163).
The Legislative Council, however, on 25 June 1998 rejected a government motion to remove the justice, although the motion was supported by major party leaders. The Council heard the justice before considering the motion. In February 1999, after further criticism of delays in his cases, the judge resigned.
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