Calls for Morcombe murder appeal bias issue to be heard ASAP
QUEENSLAND'S Solicitor-General has asked the state's top justices to lock in hearing dates so lawyers for Daniel Morcombe's convicted murderer can argue their case against the Chief Justice continuing in the appeal as soon as possible.
The legal team for Brett Peter Cowan has argued Chief Justice Tim Carmody showed bias through his association with a child protection advocate who had spoken publicly against Cowan.
Solicitor-General Peter Dunning, who acts for the Attorney-General, said there was a reasonable community expectation that the matter be heard and dealt with expediently.
He called a mention in the Queensland Court of Appeal on Friday afternoon seeking directions on how the hearings would proceed - noting hearing dates of May 7 and the week of May 25.
The court heard there was a desire for the application to be disposed of before July 13.
Cowan appealed in November against convictions for murdering, indecently dealing with and dumping Daniel Morcombe's body in Sunshine Coast bushland in 2003.
Barrister Peter Davis suggested in Brisbane Supreme Court last week that Justice Carmody showed bias when he had a private meeting in his chambers on April 15 with Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston.
He said the child protection advocate had publicly reviled his client including "public comments directly against Mr Cowan including things such as 'he ought never be released'."
"... Mr Cowan is someone who has been directly targeted by that very lobby group. Yet it seems Your Honour is associating with the lobby group to assist it," he said.
Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise are angered that the process is taking so long, especially when this meeting would not have been a problem had judgment delivery occurred in March when it was expected.
Mr Davis said he could have all the material ready for his application ready two weeks from Monday.
He said he was "armed to the teeth" but just had to gather all the material and create outlines of argument to provide to all the parties.
There will be a hearing on May 7 to decide whether Justice Carmody should hear the apprehended bias hearing alone or with the full bench.
The bias hearing has been set down for May 26.
The parties decided May 26 was the earliest the matter could be heard, allowing time for the Attorney-General to respond to the material from Cowan's legal team.