Government moves to suspend judge accused of assault

Ethan JamesAAP
Justice Gregory Geason (right) has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and emotional abuse. (HANDOUT/7 TASMANIA NEWS)
Camera IconJustice Gregory Geason (right) has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and emotional abuse. (HANDOUT/7 TASMANIA NEWS) Credit: AAP

Tasmania's government has moved to suspend a judge who has been accused of assault and emotional abuse.

Supreme Court Justice Gregory Geason has pleaded not guilty to the two charges and is expected to re-appear in Hobart Magistrates Court in February.

It is alleged Geason, who was granted bail during his first court appearance last week, emotionally abused or intimidated a person between April and November and tracked them using technology.

He has been accused of assaulting the person on October 31 by grabbing their arms, squeezing, shaking them and striking them with his hand.

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Attorney-General Guy Barnett earlier this week announced Tasmania's parliament would be recalled on Tuesday to set up an inquiry to advise on Geason's fitness to remain a judge.

Mr Barnett on Friday announced that plan would be ditched and he would instead move a motion in both houses of parliament calling on the governor to suspend Geason.

"Justice Geason is currently on voluntary leave and cannot be suspended or removed from office without the agreement of both houses of parliament," Mr Barnett said.

" ... in light of the seriousness of the charges that Justice Geason is currently facing, it is appropriate that the judge be suspended."

Mr Barnett said the government would bring forward a bill on a mechanism to assess the fitness of a judge at an appropriate time in the future.

Some lawyers and the state's former attorney-general Elise Archer had raised concerns setting up an inquiry could impact "natural justice".

Independent upper house member Meg Webb backed the government's change of direction.

She said MPs and others had concerns about the "apparent over-reach, blurring of powers, and the dangerous potential precedents" of the government's initial inquiry bill.

"Without pre-empting the outcome of next week's debate ... this is a sensible decision by the attorney-general," Ms Webb said.

According to court documents, Geason is accused of coercing his alleged victim into establishing a shared phone account to gain access to their electronic records.

Geason interrogated the person about their whereabouts, details about their companions and exhibited "jealousy, rage, anger and aggression", it is alleged.

It is also alleged Geason subjected the person to verbal abuse, made remarks about their professional and personal life and persistently yelled and screamed.

Geason was appointed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 2017.

He was admitted to practice in 1987 and has worked as a crown prosecutor in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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