Magistrate agrees to hear Ellis case

TASMANIA's top prosecutor has finally found a magistrate to hear the charges against him after the state's two most senior magistrates disqualified themselves.

Deputy chief magistrate Michael Daly disqualified himself from hearing the death by negligent driving charge against Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis today, after a week of consideration.

Mr Ellis has pleaded not guilty to causing the death of a Launceston woman in a crash on the Midland Highway in March.

Chief Magistrate Michael Hill ruled himself out earlier this month.

Both Mr Hill and Mr Daly disqualified themselves on the grounds that there personal dealings with Mr Ellis were such that a reasonable bystander might think it impacted on the impartiality of their decision.

But Magistrate Chris Webster, who first heard the matter 10 minutes after Mr Daly handed down his decision at the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning, said he was prepared to hear the case.

Mr Webster said he was initially reluctant when the case first came before the court but had read the legal authorities on such situations and decided he had no issue.

``In an ideal world perhaps the matter would be heard by a magistrate that had no dealings with Mr Ellis whatsoever, but unfortunately - or fortunately - Tasmania is a small community,'' he said.

``My dealings with Mr Ellis have been minimal, even though I have known him for 30 years.''

``I did beat him in his first case, but that is the only case I've ever had with him.''

The decision took Mr Ellis' lawyers by surprise.

``It's all sounding very promising, your honour,'' defence lawyer Michael O'Farrell said.

The hearing has been set down for March 24 next year and is expected to take a week.

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