South Australian District Court Judge Timothy Heffernan has resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
The unexpected move means a high-level investigation into his alleged misconduct has now been terminated, reports The Advertiser.
District Court Judge resigns
Earlier this year, Judicial Conduct Commissioner Michael Boylan KC confirmed he had been investigating sexual harassment complaints against a judicial officer.
JCC Boylan this week confirmed that officer was Timothy Heffernan.
Mr Heffernan joined the District Court bench in 2021.
Due to strict secrecy provisions within the Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act, no details of the allegations, nor the identity of the judge, can normally be reported.
However, JCC Boylan granted a limited exemption allowing the media to name Mr Heffernan.
In a brief statement, he confirmed Mr Heffernan “is the judicial officer in respect of whom I was investigating a complaint relating to alleged sexual harassment’’.
“I do not authorise you to publish any further details in relation to the complaint or my investigation into the complaint,’’ he stated.
“As Mr Heffernan has resigned, I have no jurisdiction to investigate the matter further.’’
Court takes all complaints seriously
Meanwhile, Chief Judge Evans said because Mr Heffernan is no longer a judicial officer, the JCC “was bound to terminate the investigation without making any findings”.
“The Court takes all complaints of inappropriate judicial conduct very seriously,’’ Chief Judge Evans said.
“In referring the complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, and whilst the investigation proceeded, the Court followed the relevant policies and protocols, including the Judicial Officer Appropriate Workplace Conduct Policy and the Courts Administration Authority Resolution Procedure which provide a safe and confidential avenue for the affected CAA employees to report.
“The Court continues to support those employees and all Court staff.”
Second judge to resign
Previously, Mr Heffernan worked as a senior prosecutor for the Director of Public Prosecutions before becoming a Federal Circuit Court Judge.
He also worked as a criminal barrister at Edmund Barton Chambers.
Mr Heffernan is only the second Judge to resign while under investigation.
In 2012, Judge Mark Griffin resigned during an investigation into his use of sex workers.
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Previously, the South Australian government removed magistrate Simon Milazzo from the bench over allegations of sexual harassment.
A judicial conduct panel found Milazzo sexually harassed four court staff over a number of years.
He denied any wrongdoing and instead blamed his behaviour on mental health issues.
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