In a society governed by the rule of law, the Courts of this State should sit in the communities they exist to serve. So, it was a pleasure to represent the Bar on Monday at the first ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court in the outstanding new law courts complex in Shepparton.
The wrapped timber layers and artwork in the foyer of the new complex evoke a sense of place, the region's rich Aboriginal heritage, and connection to the Goulburn River. The court rooms are light, bright and well-appointed with up-to-date facilities. Chief Justice Ferguson described the architecture as "testament to the benefits of looking at things from the users' perspective."
The ceremonial sitting was of a Full Court of the Supreme Court, comprising Ferguson CJ, sitting with Osborn and Beach JJA. The event was well attended by members of the local legal community and the public, including a number of Aboriginal elders. The Chief Justice’s speech can be read here. My speech can be read here.
After the ceremonial sitting, the Court of Appeal sat, hearing its first matter in the new complex, a sentencing appeal in which Paul Smallwood and Joe Connolly of counsel appeared for the applicant.
Members should by now have received in the post their ballot papers for the election of members to the Victorian Legal Services Board. The Board comprises a chair, three non-lawyer members and three lawyer members (one barrister and two solicitors). Members of the Victorian Bar are eligible to vote for the barrister member of the Board. There are three outstanding candidates: Jennifer Batrouney QC, Jason Harkess and Lisa Nichols QC. Statements by the candidates are available here. Voting closes on 9 May 2018.
This week, the Honourable Justice Connock was welcomed as the newest judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria by the profession. My speech on behalf of the Bar may be read here. All speeches can be viewed here.
While I was in Shepparton, Wendy Harris QC, in her capacity as Senior Vice-President of the Bar, attended an event to thank retiring judges who have been involved in assessing indictable crime certificate moots. The retiring judges have devoted countless hours to the assessment of candidates for indictable crime certificates, which are awarded under the Victorian Bar’s pioneering program for the certification of counsel with expertise in conducting complicated criminal trials.
Finally, this week, on Wednesday evening I attended the awards ceremony for 2017 recipients of the Supreme Court Prize. Chief Justice Ferguson and Kyrou JA—who each won the Supreme Court prize themselves in 1982 (the Chief Justice from Monash Law School; Kyrou JA from Melbourne Law School)—spoke. I sat quietly as the intimidatingly clever winners from each of the State’s law schools received their awards.
The most efficient way to organise your table for the Bar Dinner on 25 May is to click here to register online (please note that this event is for Victorian Bar members only). Using the online form, you can book your tickets as an individual guest, as a guest on an organised table, or as a table organiser. Electronic registration also makes life easier for our hard-working VicBar events team.