South Australia’s Judicial Conduct Commissioner was established to provide an independent, fair and transparent way to deal with complaints about judicial officers. Until now, most complaints about judicial officers were made to senior judges and there was no external process for dealing with them.

With the introduction of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, you can make a complaint about the conduct of a judicial officer and know that there is a clear and consistent process for the way that that complaint will be dealt with.

Who is the Judicial Conduct Commissioner?

Commissioner Vanstone

South Australia’s Judicial Conduct Commissioner is the Honourable Ann Vanstone QC.

The Judicial Conduct Commissioner (the Commissioner) is an independent statutory officer appointed under the Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015.

The Commissioner is independent and is not subject to the direction of any person as to how she carries out her work.

Commissioner Vanstone was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1978. She was appointed Deputy Crown Prosecutor in 1988 and, upon the establishment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1992, Deputy Director.

In 1994 she was appointed Queen’s Counsel. Later in 1994, Commissioner Vanstone left the Director’s office and joined the Independent Bar, where she took briefs in a number of areas. In 1999 she was appointed a Judge of the District Court of South Australia. In 2003 Judge Vanstone was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia. She remained a Justice of that Court until she resigned in 2019.

On 27 July 2020 it was announced that the Hon. Ann Vanstone QC had been appointed Judicial Conduct Commissioner. She commenced in the role on 2 September 2020.

What do we do?

We can deal with complaints about the conduct of serving judicial officers within the South Australian legal system.

When we receive a complaint we will conduct a preliminary examination and the Commissioner will decide what to do.

In conducting a preliminary examination, we might obtain court documents or request you or someone else to provide further information.

The Commissioner can:

  • Receive and deal with complaints about conduct of serving judicial officers in the South Australian legal system
  • Conduct a preliminary examination of a complaint
  • Obtain relevant court documents and require a person to provide information or documents
  • Refer a complaint to the Office for Public Integrity or jurisdictional head
  • Recommend the Attorney-General appoint a judicial conduct panel
  • Make a report to Parliament about the removal of a judicial officer
  • Dismiss a complaint or take no further action

The Commissioner cannot:

  • Deal with complaints about Federal judicial officers or judicial officers of other States or Territories
  • Deal with complaints about former judicial officers
  • Investigate a complaint
  • Conduct hearings
  • Issue or execute search warrants
  • Challenge or question the legality or correctness of any instruction, direction, order, judgment, or other decision given or made by a judicial officer in relation to any legal proceedings
  • Appoint or give directions to a judicial conduct panel
  • Punish, discipline, reprimand or remove judicial officers