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Welcome Justice Terence Forrest

News

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.27

Justice Terence Forrest was welcomed to the Victorian Supreme Court on 12 November 2009. Among the speakers was then LIV president Danny Barlow. This is an edited version of his speech.

I appear on behalf of the LIV and the solicitors of this state to congratulate your Honour on your appointment to this Court.

The Age newspaper article on your appointment – and, incidentally, that of Justice Emerton, and of magistrates Armour, O’Donnell and Vandersteen – was headed, in bold font: “Barry Hall’s brief appointed Supreme Court judge”.

Five judicial officers – and the headline is “Barry Hall’s brief”! As Justice Emerton commented at her welcome, Age readers were invited to celebrate the five appointments by reliving the drama of the 2005 Grand Final.

Equally there is, of course, the distortion of that one rather straightforward case four years ago being presented as the pinnacle of your Honour’s 30 years in practice.

Articled clerks at Galbally & O’Bryan are told on their first day that, no matter what other extended hours they may work, they are to be in before 9 every day, so as to be actually working at 9 – and they are not to stop work until 10 past 5. This is stressed.

Peter O’Bryan’s office was near the front door. On only your second day, he saw you coming in at a quarter past 9. He questioned you as to whether you were arriving late.

Quick as a flash – with your characteristic broad, disarming smile – you responded: “No boss”.

Mr O’Bryan remembers this particularly, because he’d not been addressed as “boss” before.

You went on: “I’m not late. I’ve been in an hour. I just stepped out to get a packet of smokes”.

“May I see the packet, please?”

As you pulled out a well-worn and half-empty packet you smiled and said: “There’s a hell of a lot of bots in this place boss”.

Another Galballys partner summed your Honour up as “the loveable larrikin” – brilliant, with a great sense of humour.

One instance of brilliance that immediately sprang to mind was in connection with the Krope murder trial in 1978.

Gloria Krope was the reigning Miss Australia. Her brother, Bill, had killed their father – in self-defence he claimed – with 27 bullets. Their mother was charged with conspiracy to murder, after she had gone on television saying the killing was a good idea.

It was your Honour – at the very beginning of your year’s articles with Frank Galbally (“Mr Frank”) – who picked up a key factor – a change in the handwriting in the police notes.

Jeremy Ruskin tells the story of what took place following the “not guilty” verdicts which were delivered in the Supreme Court:

The enthusiastic young articled clerk, Terry Forrest . . . raced up to “Mr Frank”.

“Congratulations Mr Frank!”

“Thank you, Tony.”

“It’s Terry, Mr Frank.”

“Of course, Terry. Now listen carefully, Terry. Bill Krope, his mother, and his sister and I are going to walk down Lonsdale Street to St Francis’ Church to thank God for what He – and I – have achieved. Members of the press should know this.”

Your Honour is not known for such public visits to church after even a significant win – but you learned well the lesson of allowing members of the press to do their job.

There are some counsel who slip out a side or back door, and are never seen in the press or on the television news. That was not the approach your Honour took.

While you were in articles, Mr Frank often had you drive him to court. On one occasion, you were to drive him to the Coroner’s Court. The press would be waiting.

It was windy and raining heavily. You pulled the new, big, blue Mercedes smoothly up outside the court.

But then you pressed the wrong button – the roof slid back – and the wind and rain played havoc with Mr Frank’s immaculately groomed silver hair. He emerged into the waiting press photographers, utterly dishevelled.

You parked the Mercedes and returned to sit behind Mr Frank in court. In the first lull in proceedings, he beckoned you forward. He said only one thing: “You’re a bloody idiot, Forrest”.

I understand that Peter O’Bryan – now retired – said in his letter of congratulations on your appointment that of all his employees, you were Mr Frank’s favourite.

Of course, when you came to the Bar, the firm briefed you. They continued to do so – and neither they, nor any other of your instructing solicitors was ever disappointed in the thoroughness of your preparation, or in the creative spark you brought to the presentation of cases.

Your Honour has been an outstanding and thoroughly well-liked advocate. Your thoroughness and calm and the imaginative creative spark are fine qualities in a judge.

On behalf of the LIV and the solicitors of this state, I wish your Honour a long, satisfying and distinguished service as a judge of this court.

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