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Welcome Judge Anthony Howard


Cite as: (2006) 80(12) LIJ, p. 30

Judge Anthony Howard was welcomed to the County Court of Victoria on 9 October. Among the speakers was Law Institute of Victoria Council member Anthony Burke. An edited version of his prepared speech appears below.

I appear on behalf of Victoria’s solicitors to congratulate your Honour on your appointment as a judge of the County Court of Victoria.

Your Honour’s career at the Bar spans more than 30 years, including almost 14 years as a silk, and you bring to the County Court extensive experience in all areas of state and federal criminal law, for both the defence and prosecution.

You have also appeared in a number of major inquiries and royal commissions, including the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission and most recently the Metropolitan Ambulance Service Royal Commission.

We trust that in your career as a barrister you have not caused a shortage of cases flowing to this Court, largely through your outstanding negotiating skills. Indeed, you have earned a reputation as such a good negotiator in criminal law matters that at times you have managed to negotiate your client out of any charges being laid.

You also have a reputation as a creative person, who while studying at Monash University in the 1970s was president of the Law Students’ Society in 1972 and a staff member of Lot’s Wife, the outspoken student newspaper of the day. You volunteered at the Springvale Legal Service and the Fitzroy Legal Service and did articles with Frank Galbally of Galbally & O’Bryan before you were admitted to practice on 1 March 1974.

While at the Bar from 1982 to 1985 you took leave to work as Crown counsel and later as senior Crown counsel in the Attorney-General’s Department in Hong Kong. I understand that it was here that you made a very significant connection with another member of the prosecution team, Linda Dessau, now your wife and Family Court judge.

Your creativity has extended in recent times to the musical variety and you are known to host excellent classical and live musical performances at your home. I understand that the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Harber Phillips, has been known to sing for his supper at your house.

We can only guess that these must sometimes be long evenings to the extent that you are afterwards effectively “dead to the world”. After one such evening your neighbours were awoken by the activities of thieves breaking into your car and setting off the extremely loud alarm, but this fell on deaf ears in your home.

No doubt you will have many initials after your name in your new role, but it is a matter of public record that you are certainly a “sensitive new age guy” (SNAG). We recall a legendary picture of you in the family swimming pool with your two young sons, Oliver and Joshua, which appeared in The Age newspaper in the late 1980s, espousing the virtues of men being involved in family life.

The public image in fact does match the reality in this case and you are known to dedicate a great deal of time to family occasions, particularly of the sporting kind.

Your swimming prowess is regularly tested in the annual “pier to pub” swim that attracts a number of prominent members of the political and legal fraternity.

Your passion for sport knows no bounds and is proudly presented for the entire world to see on the “Bombers” website, where we learn that you were instrumental in 1999 in establishing the “Lawdons” group of Essendon supporters to enable lawyers and their staff to interact and network through a common love of the mighty Bombers.

We trust your Honour, as chair of the Lawdons, will find a fertile new field of influence to attract supporters to the Essendon Football Club and the Lawdons.

There may not be any such thing as equality on the football field, but we do know that you have been personally committed to Equality Before the Law and a member of that particular Committee. You have worked tirelessly in promotion of the Bar’s Equal Opportunity for Briefing Policy for women barristers and instrumental in developing the first national Equal Opportunity Briefing Policy for women advocates that was adopted first here in Victoria.

We have heard of your active involvement in various schemes to welcome newcomers to the Bar and to ensure equal opportunity for women at the Victorian Bar.

During your distinguished career you have been active in many areas to create opportunities for all at the Bar, in legal aid, pro bono and family law, and in creating a genial environment for barristers to network both socially and professionally in the redevelopment of the new Essoign Club on the first level of Owen Dixon Chambers.

The convivial Aickin Chambers at 200 Queen Street, Melbourne, where you have spent a large part of your career, will surely be a quieter place since the recent departure of Judge David Parsons and now your Honour to this Court.

On behalf of Victoria’s solicitors may I again congratulate your Honour on your appointment and wish you a long and rewarding service of this Court.


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