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Justice Carmody - A Judge making most difficult decisions is under scrutiny

Justice Benjamin's "uncommon" intervention regarding the decision by Family Court Justice Tim Carmody to give custody to the mother even though her boyfriend was a convicted child pornography addict, (08 Feb), raises the question of whether Justice Carmody is a competent judge.

One month ago, (08 Jan), The Australian reported on another decision by Justice Carmody that was later overturned, where even the ex-wife's lawyers had expressed surprise at the degree of support Justice Carmody had given her.

More disturbing was that the three review judges found that not only did Justice Carmody rely on factors not based in law, but that he had "imported paragraphs from previous decisions."

Given that Justice Rimmer was recently found to have plagiarized and forced to step down - to the discredit of the Family Court system - perhaps a full review of Justice Carmody's past performance would be in order ?

Geoff Holland
Cairns

Justic Carmody's previous judgement was reported in the Australian as follows

Justice Carmody in the Australian link

Child-porn addict's partner wins custody
Matthew Denholm and Paige Taylor
February 03, 2007

A FAMILY Court judge has ordered an eight-year-old boy to live with his stripper mother, despite acknowledging her partner was one of Australia's worst child pornography addicts.
Justice Tim Carmody ruled the mother's partner, jailed in 2005 for amassing Australia's biggest collection of child pornography, was not a risk to the boy's safety because his "interest is in young girls, not boys".

The January 16 judgment has left the boy's grandparents, who had sought to continue their custody of him, distraught and fearing for his safety. It has also shocked Family Court lawyers.
The mother's boyfriend is on bail after serving a third of a three-year jail sentence. However, Justice Carmody ruled his relationship with the mother was not a barrier to custody.

Justice Carmody dismissed submissions by the boy's Tasmanian grandparents that the mother's boyfriend posed a danger to the child.
In his reasons for judgment, Justice Carmody said the boyfriend's trial judge had accepted that the confessed child porn addict had not personally molested children.
"(His) interest is in young girls, not boys," Justice Carmody said.
"He had become addicted to looking at pornographic images of girls aged between 12 and 14, but despite subscribing to up to an astounding 350,000 images and 6400 videos, had never personally molested a child."
Justice Carmody added that the boyfriend was remorseful and did not "consider himself to be a pedophile".

However, the boyfriend's trial judge also said that each image represented the corruption and abuse of a child.

The man admitted to police that he had masturbated while viewing the images, which included images of girls under 14 performing sex acts.
His trial was told that some of the images were probably sourced from Russian organised crime syndicates.

However, Justice Carmody accepted the mother's assurances that she would keep the boy away from her boyfriend.
Justice Carmody said
The mother has had an unchallenged primary care role in relation to the child for most of his growing years, he said. She has shortcomings and her profession raises some questions, but this is not a court of morality. "There is no reasonable basis for believing . . . (the boyfriend) would abuse . . . (the boy) or otherwise harm him.
However, Justice Carmody did make custody conditional upon the mother not living with the boyfriend, allowing him to stay overnight when the boy was home, or leaving him alone with the boy.
Justice Carmody gave the boy's grandparents - who had custody - 3 hours to pack his bags, say tearful farewells and hand him over to his mother to take to Perth.

The grandparents said yesterday this made a mockery of Justice Carmody's ruling that the boyfriend was not a risk to the boy's wellbeing, and was impossible to police, particularly when the mother worked nights.
The boy's grandparents have been sent a letter of support by Professor of Child Development at the University of South Australia, Freda Briggs, who has written extensively on child abuse issues and researched the profile of abusers.

Professor Briggs said the couple's case highlighted a wider problem with the judiciary. "I am constantly receiving examples of judges disregarding child abuse and showing ignorance about these matters," she said.
"You can say that this demonstrates a clear need for training on child abuse for the judiciary, given that they have the power to make life threatening decisions."

Professor Briggs said research from the University of Cork, Ireland, conducted for the European Union, found more than 70 per cent of men who downloaded child porn had either abused a child or would do so soon after.

The boy's grandparents, who had sought to extend their custody of the boy after learning of the boyfriend's conviction, said any degree of risk was unacceptable.
"Whether it's 70 per cent or 1 per cent, the risk is too high and to expose an eight-year-old to that is just unforgivable," the boy's grandmother told The Weekend Australian yesterday.
"We are devastated and are very concerned for his safety."

The couple, aged in their late 50s, had been caring for the boy at their home, with his mother's consent, for 10 months. The boy, his family and his mother's boyfriend cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The boy's father has a medical condition which renders him unable to care for him. However, until the court ordered the boy to live in Western Australia with his mother, the father was in regular contact with him.

The grandparents argued before Justice Carmody that the safest and most stable home for the boy - until a permanent decision on custody could be made by the court later this year - was their own.

The boy had been enrolled at a well-regarded primary school and had made friends and joined several social and sporting groups.
Justice Carmody ordered that the grandparents, who both have professional jobs, and their son - the boy's father - have time with the boy during the second half of school holidays.

But the grandfather said it was impossible for his son, who is receiving treatment for his condition and only works part-time, to afford the airfare.

Contacted by The Weekend Australian in Brisbane yesterday,
Justice Carmody said
I would have to let my judgment speak for itself. I have published my reasons. It would be wrong to add to them. Before anyone makes any judgment about the correctness of the result, they need to understand the full context in which the decision was made.
One of a handful of Family Court judges trained to specialise in cases involving allegations of serious child sexual abuse, Justice Carmody has a background in child protection.

However, West Australian child protection authorities, alerted by the boy's grandfather, yesterday said they were "concerned" for the child's safety and were trying to establish the level of contact between him and the boyfriend.

"The Department is concerned for the safety of this child and is a making an immediate assessment of the situation to ensure the child is protected," said Judy Hogben, acting executive director for Community Development.

Edited

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