Overturned a stay

Updated:THE Queensland Court of Appeal has overturned a stay imposed on the bail review of an alleged bikie as it argued the supreme court was not a "fragile institution whose judges may be swayed by random utterances" from public officials.

Solicitor-General had earlier argued Justice George Fryberg erred in finding a reasonable member of the public would infer revoking a bikie's bail meant Premier Campbell Newman's comments suggesting the courts do just that had influenced him.

Justice Fryberg refused to review of a decision to grant bail to alleged Bandido Jarrod Kevin Anthony Brown after comments from the premier.

Mr Brown was allegedly involved in a bikie brawl on the Gold Coast which sparked a government crackdown on bikies and new legislation rushed through parliament to demand tougher jail terms for bikies, including adjusting the bail rules.

Justice Fryberg ordered a stay because he feared the court's integrity could be compromised.

The Court of Appeal found Justice George Fryberg erred in staying proceedings until his demands were met - either the premier withdraw his statements or the media reports of his comments are found to be out of context.

"These views, which we respectfully adopt, are inconsistent with the primary judge's approach which implicitly postulates a public perception of the supreme court as a fragile institution whose judges may be swayed by random utterances of a member of the executive," the judgment said.

"The reputation of an institution gained by the conduct of its officers over decades is most unlikely to be affected adversely by occasional criticisms.

"Assuming that the Premier's remarks were made as reported, they were not such as would lead a reasonable member of the Queensland public to think that any Queensland judicial officer would fail to be true to his or her oath or affirmation of office in consequence of them."

The court noted that a law judges were bound to apply would be unpopular at times or a judge might also declare unconstitutional and invalid a law that has general community approval.

"The Australian supreme courts developed a reputation for independence and impartiality prior to federation.

"That reputation has been maintained without interruption."

The Director of Public Prosecutions can now apply to the supreme court again for a review of the original bail decision.

Earlier: QUEENSLAND'S Solicitor-General has argued Justice George Fryberg erred in finding a reasonable member of the public would infer revoking a bikie's bail meant Premier Campbell Newman's comments suggesting the courts do just that had influenced him.

The Queensland Court of Appeal is hearing an appeal of the justice's supreme court decision to temporarily stay a review of a decision to grant bail to alleged Bandido Jarrod Kevin Anthony Brown after comments from the premier.

Mr Brown was allegedly involved in a bikie brawl on the Gold Coast which sparked a government crackdown on bikies and new legislation rushed through parliament to demand tougher jail terms for bikies, including adjusting the bail rules.

Solicitor-General Walter Sofranoff, acting for the State of Queensland, said even if Justice Fryberg could infer the premier wanted the courts to revoke bail, it was irrelevant and did not present a risk to the court's integrity.

"That raises the rhetorical question: `so what', and I don't mean that disrespectfully,'' Mr Sofranoff said.

"The Director of Public Prosecutions and the police also wished to refuse the courts to refuse to grant Mr Brown bail, that's why the application for bail before a magistrate… and a review was sought.

"That there should be somebody, a member of the public or the government, who shared that view, would not be surprising.''

Justice Margaret McMurdo, the appeal court president, though, said it was Queensland practice for public office bearers to avoid commenting on the courts.

"It's a courtesy that has developed because it assists in the proper functioning of arms of government in Queensland,'' she said.

Though he agreed, Mr Sofranoff said there was room for people in authority to express their views publicly with affecting the outcome of a court proceeding.

Justice McMurdo said it was hard to see how a call for a particular court outcome would not undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Mr Sofranoff said comments made outside court did not impede the judiciary's task and should have "no effect whatsoever".

Barrister John Allen, acting for Mr Brown, said Mr Sofranoff's arguments seemed to suggest the comments were either contempt or irrelevant.

He said the supreme court had inherent power to act to preserve its institutional integrity when it faced threats to its independence.

The Court of Appeal will hand down its decision at 3.30pm today.



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