Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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Swearing-in Martin SC DCJ and Searles DCJ Print E-mail

intro_openbookpurple.jpgOn 17 July 2007, His Honour Judge Martin SC and His Honour Judge Searles were sworn in as Judges of the District Court during a ceremony in the Banco Court. The Association was represented at the ceremony by the President, Hugh Fraser QC whose speech is reproduced below.

May it please the Court:

It is my great pleasure on behalf of the Bar to welcome these appointments and to welcome each of our newest judges of the District Court.

Your Honour Judge Martin:

Your Honour has been well known as one of the most highly-respected members of the criminal Bar.

Your career path was determined by your formative time as the first clerk to His Honour Judge Shanahan (as he then was) in Rockhampton. You later served in Brisbane as clerk to His Honour Judge Kimmins.

You came to Bar in 1977. Your leadership, skill and learning were formally recognized, although previously demonstrably well-known for many years, when you took silk in 1996.

Your Honour acted at trial and on appeal in some of the most high-profile cases of your generation.  Your practice was not confined to criminal work. It included commissions of inquiry, inquests, industrial proceedings and inquiries, and a range of civil work, including in the personal injuries field, particularly in your Honour’s earlier years at the bar.

Your skill as an opponent was never to be under-estimated, and your integrity has been your unspoken byword.

As an advocate you were feared by opponents and calmly confident yourself. Indeed, so confident were you of cleaning up your opposition in one case that you said that you’d “eat your wig” if you lost.  You did lose. Even if such hyperbole is de rigeur on the Court, perhaps repetition of it may be discouraged by budgetary considerations.

Your Honour was an active member of the Bar Association, having been a co-convenor of the Criminal Law Sub-committee of the Association, as the Chief Judge noted.

As well, your Honour gave lectures in Criminal Law at the Bar Practice Course and contributed as a facilitator at that course.

In addition to your intellectual life, you had some sporting success.– you had an outstanding Rugby career at Nudgee College, and even went on to successfully coach an under-19 Queensland Rugby side – but you remain to this day the only man in Christendom both to retire from Rugby competition due to repeated bouts of concussion, and, having taken up the gentler art of Touch Football, to be forced into retirement again after being concussed 2 weeks in a row.

No such escape from the bench is likely.

Your Honour also has some notoriety as a golfer, according to my informant, who I won’t name. But he is a judge. And a former long-standing chamber colleague of yours.

Apparently after a day out with your colleagues on the golf course, during which others were receiving small tips, from time to time, from the golf pro who was accompanying the party, you were incensed that the pro hadn’t spoken to you at all by the 18th….the pro approached you and apologized that. “You probably noticed me spending a few minutes on your mates’ golf swings. I’m sorry I didn’t get around to you, Terry, but I’d need you for a week”.

Perhaps now you might find a little more time in which to perfect your golf swing.

There are, however, a couple of issues that your Honour will face in the transition to your new role:

  • For example, I understand that you have just invested in a large black Chevrolet Wagon with black tinted windows, which you must now (sadly) relinquish in favour of a Holden Calais. Perhaps you might stick some flags on the black wagon and sell it to a foreign embassy.
  • There is also the need to adapt to our computer age courts.
  • You have never succumbed to the requirement for a desktop computer at Chambers. Your first resort, it is said, apocryphally no doubt, is the “English and Empire Digest”, and you go from there.
  • But your technical illiteracy apparently extends further. Colleagues have often been enlisted to read your mobile phone text messages for you
  • Adding those 2 technical issues together, are we to have a Luddite judge in the age of computers?  The Chief Judge might have other ideas.

Your Honour will also notice some differences between bench and bar table. It is said that at the bar table your Honour had the advocate’s mannerisms of flicking imaginary flecks of lint from your left shoulder and twirling your glasses incessantly to show annoyance or impatience with an opponent:

  • you admitted to the same informant mentioned earlier that the glasses that you would so restlessly twirl were barely optical, and were worn just for effect, because, as you complained, you looked too young under your wig.
  • Happily, I can assure your Honour that you now look just the right age to be a judge, so you are free to dispense with those former mannerisms if you chose.

Your Honour Judge Searles:

For more than 30 years, your Honour has been one of the most widely known and, more importantly, highly respected stalwarts of the litigation profession in this State.  Time does not permit a recounting of the many cases in which you have acted with nothing but the highest degrees of skill – there are many clients who owe a great deal to your adroit handling of their problems.  It is a testament to your reputation that, for many years, you have been the first port of call for members of our profession who have found themselves in personal or professional difficulties, and the knowledge that “Searlesy” is no longer at the other end of the phone for advice, counsel, or just a chat is something that many of us will take some time to adjust to.

A number of administrative issues need to be dealt with for your Honour’s transition to the court:

  • Appropriate parking arrangements must be made in the judges’ carpark for your Harley-Davidson.
  • Queensland Transport must be contacted to replace the “King Rat DCJ” numberplate.
  • Ede and Ravenscroft have advised that provision of your judge’s wig is delayed by a few weeks due to the requirement to fit Elvis sideburns.

Although our colleagues the solicitors will rightly claim your Honour as one of their own, the bar can claim the privilege of a very close association with your honour on 2 fronts:

  • First, in the course of your Honour’s extensive experience in litigation in the trial and appeal courts barristers have had the privilege of regularly being briefed by your Honour.
  • Secondly, the Bar can claim an association with your Honour from an earlier stage of your Honour’s life than, I challenge my solicitor colleague on my left,  could be claimed by any in the solicitor’s branch of the profession. Admittedly those inclined to quibble might suggest that your very early link with the bar association is a little indirect. Nevertheless, it is the case that in one of those startling Queensland coincidences, your Honour was delivered into the world at the Longreach hospital by my wife’s grandfather.  

To both of your Honours -

The Bar joins in the pride your families rightfully enjoy for each of you today, and is sure that each of you will make great contributions to the work of this busy court over the years ahead.

In those endeavours, you can be assured that each of you will have the Bar’s full and unstinting support.

May it please the Court.

Hugh Fraser QC


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