Sunshine Coast lawyers stick up for rule of law

SUNSHINE Coast lawyers have thrown their support behind a magistrate who angered the Newman government by granting bail to an alleged bikie gang member.

The decision appeared to fly in the face of tough new laws designed to make it tougher for bikies to get bail.

But the Sunshine Coast Law Association strongly backed Bernadette Callaghan, who was not convinced by the evidence presented that Lorne James Campbell, 33, was a bikie club member.

Campbell appeared before Ms Callaghan last week on a charge of breaching his bail conditions on charges related to shots being fired at a Mooloolaba tattoo shop.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said later he "respectfully" disagreed with the decision and said a Supreme Court review would be sought, while Premier Campbell Newman said that it was time for "insiders in the legal system" to realise the community wanted protection and they should act accordingly.

SCLA president John Watson said the organisation rejected the criticism and believed personal attacks on any member of the judiciary were unacceptable.

"The criticisms levelled at the magistracy and broadly on the rule of the law are unacceptable," Mr Watson said.

"The independence of the judiciary is essential as one of the fundamental aspects of our justice system.

"It is inappropriate to make moral and other judgments based on what could be ill-considered information."

Ms Callaghan has been criticised in the past for apparent leniency but Mr Watson said she was "very highly regarded" by the Coast's legal profession.

"Magistrate Callaghan is respected on the Sunshine Coast as someone who fairly and appropriately applies the law," he said.

"We have continued to see a series of disappointing and unwarranted attacks made on the Queensland judiciary including Magistrate Callaghan, and on the key fundamentals of the rule of the law.

"Magistrate Callaghan and the broader judiciary continue to have the strong support of the Sunshine Coast legal profession."

Deputy Police Commissioner Brett Pointing was said to be in talks with the Department of Public Prosecutions to determine whether Ms Callaghan's decision will be appealed.

Should the government be attempting to influence the judiciary?

This poll ended on 27 October 2014.

Current Results

No way, they should butt out


Maybe, I guess someone has to be a watchdog


Of course. That's the sort of thing we elected them to do.


Who Cares? I don't trust either lot.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.