ATTORNEY-General Greg Smith has moved to change laws so he can nominate a judge to become the state's top prosecutor.
Mr Smith is expected to snub Sydney's leading barristers and install a senior judicial identity as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The No.1 candidate on Mr Smith's wish list is believed to be District Court Judge Martin Blackmore, a former Crown prosecutor and deputy DPP.
Sources said Mr Blackmore, who declined to comment on the speculation, had intended to apply but was concerned about not taking his pension with him.
Mr Smith tagged an amendment to the Director of Public Prosecutions Act as part of the Courts and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011.
"The Bill amends the Act to make it clear that if a judge or former judge is appointed as DPP, then his or her prior judicial service counts towards any judicial pension to which the DPP would be entitled," Mr Smith said.
"The amendment makes it certain that prior service as a judge counts toward service as DPP for the purposes of determining eligibility for the DPP's judicial pension."
Veteran solicitors and barristers said Mr Blackmore would be a "sound and welcome" appointment.
But there was speculation last night that other Crown prosecutors turned judges - including Judges David Frearson and Richard Cogswell - were also in the mix.
Judge Paul Conlon did not apply for the job.
The remuneration package for a District Court judge is $331,690, compared with the DPP salary of $368,550.
Leading barristers Chris Maxwell QC, Margaret Cunneen SC and Lloyd Babb SC are understood to have applied for the DPP job.
Nick Cowdery, who retired as DPP in March after a 16-year tenure, said the legislative change would clear the path for a judge to replace him.
The legislation would also allow Mr Cowdery to be offered a spot on the bench without any impact on his retirement benefits.
Mr Cowdery, who said he was enjoying his retirement working with universities and international agencies, has not been offered a judicial job by Mr Smith. But he did not rule out stepping up if his former DPP deputy offered him a job.
"It is a practical move and there are obvious implications if you don't do it," Mr Cowdery said. "No judge would nominate because they would lose their judicial entitlements. There may be a number of judges who wish to put their hand up for DPP. That has definitely happened in other jurisdictions."
Mr Smith's spokesman would not comment on his choice for DPP.