Australian court overrules judge who socialized with lawyer

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court has overturned a ruling of a family court judge who did not declare he had coffee chats with a lawyer involved in the case. Five High Court judges unanimously agreed the ruling should be set aside because of perceived bias. The ruling also means a legal commission must report to the federal government on the adequacy of laws on judicial impartiality. The case involved a division of assets between a Perth real estate agent and his former wife. Court documents show the wife’s lawyer met for coffee and spoke by phone and text with the judge several times before the judge ruled in the woman’s favor. The judge has since retired.

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