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Emily Woods

Judge resigns on social media over prosecutor complaint

Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry has resigned following a complaint from a chief prosecutor. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry has announced his resignation on social media following 17 years on the bench, after a complaint was made against him by Victoria's top prosecutor.

Justice Lasry's decision to quit came after he was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, had complained to the Judicial Commission of Victoria over a ruling connected to the Eastern Freeway crash that killed four police officers.

The 75-year-old took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share the news.

"And so it ends after 51 years," Justice Lasry wrote, alongside a link to the song On A Wing And Prayer by Mike Stern.

He then confirmed the news in court on Wednesday, during a pre-trial hearing for a group of bikies accused of murder.

"I will not be able to continue with any further hearings in this case and will soon be resigning from this court," he told the Supreme Court in Melbourne.

Ms Judd's complaint was over Justice Lasry's ruling on the case against trucking boss Simiona Tuteru.

Tuteru had been charged with manslaughter after he allowed a truck driver to get behind the wheel while high on drugs and tired before he crashed into four police officers in 2020.

But prosecutors withdrew those charges six days before Tuteru's trial, in favour of heavy vehicle offences.

Justice Lasry claimed the court processes had been used oppressively and unfairly by Ms Judd and decided to permanently stay the case.

Ms Judd successfully challenged his position in the Court of Appeal, with three judges overturning his ruling in August 2023.

Tuteru faced a pre-sentence hearing on February 6 and is yet to be sentenced.

Justice Lasry said the director complained that his comments "had the tendency to diminish public confidence in the administration of justice in Victoria and diminish the confidence of litigants and the public in general" in his impartiality and independence. 

"These are allegations I utterly reject," he said in court on Wednesday.

"Whilst it is impossible to know what the Judicial Commission's findings might be, now that I know of the director's allegation, it is clear that it is not appropriate for me to continue to preside over any matters involving her as a party, including this matter.

"I am 75 years of age and very close to permanent retirement in any event."

Justice Lasry was appointed to the court in 2007 and officially retired in 2018, but has continued to serve on the bench as a reserve judge.

He said he will resign from the court by letter to the attorney-general, effective at midnight on February 23.

Justice Lasry is currently presiding over high-profile criminal matters before the court, including convicted killer Ricardo Barbaro who is due to be sentenced and had a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

An Office of Public Prosecutions spokesman said a complaint was made about Justice Lasry in May 2023 and deferred any further comment to the Judicial Commission. 

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