General News

Adelaide magistrate charged with sexual harassment loses attempt to quash investigation

A South Australian magistrate charged with sexual harassment has lost a bid to have an investigation into his conduct quashed.

Most important points:

Magistrate Simon Milazzo has been charged with sexual and other misconduct towards five women. Mr. Milazzo denies all allegations against him Judicial committee is investigating the allegations

Magistrate Simon Milazzo has been charged with sexual and other misconduct against five women between 2012 and 2020, spanning eight years.

Milazzo denies all charges and has been suspended while the Judicial Conduct Panel investigates the allegations.

No charges have been filed, and the investigation is not a criminal investigation.

At least some of the alleged incidents are said to have occurred in the Magistrates Court building.

In June last year, the panel was appointed to investigate and report on the eight complaints of misconduct – the first such investigation in South Australia.

The then Judicial Conduct Commissioner Ann Vanstone QC did not believe that Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal would be able to “handle the complaints satisfactorily” as some had already been brought to her attention and the attention of her deputy and wrote to then-Attorney General Vickie Chapman who recommends the panel.

Former justice commissioner Ann Vanstone said she did not believe the chief magistrate would be able to “handle the complaints satisfactorily”. (ABC News: Michael Clements)

However, Mr. Milazzo requested a judicial review of that recommendation in the Court of Appeal in November, alleging that the commissioner had not followed proper procedure and “acted without jurisdiction and authority”.

Milazzo also claimed that the Judicial Conduct Panel’s decision to investigate the allegations was “void,” as the panel allowed a witness legal representation.


“He is asking for injunctions… to effectively end the panel’s investigation into allegations of sexual and other misconduct,” Court of Appeals chairman Mark wrote. Livesey, in the published verdict.

“It is in connection with what the applicant described as the Commissioner’s ‘gatekeeper role’ that dismissal is necessarily being considered.

“To begin with, it is appropriate to note that, regardless of the terminology, these comments boiled down to the same point: the applicant was not properly informed of the conduct to be investigated by the Commissioner and which was subsequently the subject of recommendation by the commissioner and investigation by the panel.

“The applicant argued that these deficiencies were followed by a failure to undertake the exercise considered in a preliminary investigation, namely assessing [the claims’] truthfulness and seriousness in light of the bailiff’s response.”

The court expressed concern over proposed redactions.

In the redacted verdict published Monday, Judge Livesey, Judge David Lovell, and Judge Sam Doyle rejected Mr. Milazzo’s request for judicial review on all grounds.

“The bailiff was reasonably able to respond and provide the commissioner with information to be evaluated to conduct the preliminary investigation,” Justice Livesey wrote.

“The panel found that relevant ‘behavior’ had been identified. It rejected the claim that there had been no preliminary investigation into these allegations, describing this claim as ‘close and pedantic’.

“Finally, there is no reason to doubt that the Commissioner has conducted a preliminary investigation.

“The panel’s decision to grant a limited right of appearance to counsel for Witness A was not out of the jurisdiction.”

Simon Milazzo has been suspended as magistrate while the Judicial Conduct Panel conducts its investigation. (ABC News)

On Friday, during a hearing on the case, the Court of Appeals expressed concern about the proposed redactions that Mr. Milazzo’s counsel had asked for on the verdict before it was published.

“First is the power we could exercise in running the editorials,” Judge Livesey said.

“We are concerned about the size of the proposed redactions.”

Milazzo’s lawyer Jonathan Wells QC asked for the court to be closed to the media so that he could “speak openly and honestly about these matters, not in code”.

Justice Doyle closed the court, saying “important hearings” had already been held in a closed court.

The Judicial Conduct Panel is now free to investigate the allegations.

Once the investigation is complete, the panel must submit a report to the Attorney General, which will be forwarded to parliament.

Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

Related Articles

Back to top button