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Welcome Judge Gerard Mullaly


Cite as: (2009) 83(06) LIJ, p.25

Judge Gerard Mullaly was welcomed to the County Court of Victoria on 21 April. Among the speakers was LIV president Danny Barlow. This is an edited version of his speech.

Your Honour had seven and a half years in solicitors’ offices before going to the Bar, and a further two years in 2000 and 2001, when you left the Bar and joined the firm of Stary George Myall, becoming a partner in Stary Myall.

You served articles with David Halstead at Maurice Blackburn & Co, and remained with that firm for two years. You also worked closely with John Price during this time.

At Maurice Blackburn, you worked in the personal injuries department – Workcare (as it was then called) and also common law claims. You had only limited involvement in the criminal law practice of the firm.

Partners and staff at Maurice Blackburn run, from time to time, in charity fun runs. Good naturedly, you joined in one such 10 kilometre run. With characteristic modesty, you’d not mentioned your running history – and your work colleagues were dazzled by your performance on the day.

A hallmark of your practice is the depth of your social conscience and commitment. You began your professional career at Maurice Blackburn, the oldest established union movement firm in Melbourne, dating back to 1919. William Slater and Clyde Holding each served their articles there.

You then moved to the criminal law division of the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria, first in Melbourne, then Geelong.

In those rather early days of the evolution of the solicitor advocate, your Honour was the first Legal Aid Commission lawyer in the Geelong office to conduct serious criminal trials.

Your instructors all speak of your utter dedication, your thoroughness and attention to detail.

In the representation of Mr Lindberg before the Cole Inquiry into the AWB, your instructing solicitor nicknamed you “the Oracle”. You were so immersed in the case that you had every detail in your head.

More than a year after the Inquiry, your leader, now Judge Allen, Mr Lindberg’s new senior counsel in subsequent proceedings, consulted with your Honour. Astonishingly, a year after the event you still had all the detail absolutely at your fingertips.

Your Honour was also very obliging to your instructing solicitors. Late last year, an instructor sought you for a bail application in a drugs case. You said you had an important family engagement that afternoon. Your instructor, in good faith, said he was sure you’d be away by lunchtime.

Your client got bail – but you didn’t finish until after 4pm.

You observed that, being so very late for your afternoon family commitment, you would now have to make an application on your own behalf before a very different tribunal!

Your Honour will be sorely missed by your regular instructing solicitors, but they are consoled in the knowledge that the Court and the community are very well served by your appointment.

In Geelong, where you live, you have for a very long time worked to support the community services organisation Bethany Community Support. You chaired the board of management for eight years, and were made a life governor last year.

Also last year, you received the Rotary Community Service Award for 2008.

You have served on the board of the Geelong Community Legal Service, and currently serve on the board of the Geelong Art Gallery.

Your Honour and most others in court today must have been wondering when this would be said. Your Honour is, of course, not the first Mullaly to sit on the Bench of this Court.

Your Honour’s father, Paul Mullaly, retired from this Court in 2001 after more than 22 years distinguished service as a judge. Before that, his Honour was a Prosecutor for the Queen for 17 and a half years – and also Crown Counsel for the last two of those years.

You took pains to advise the listing clerks of the cases in which you were briefed so as to be sure never to be listed in front of your father.

One day, however, the trial judge in one of your cases was indisposed, and your Honour’s father was sent down to attend to the adjournment.

It is a measure of your scrupulous care and integrity that you declined to apply for a certificate under the Appeal Costs Fund Act. No-one could have faulted an application in such an absolutely clear-cut situation. Your Honour ensured by other means that your client was in no way disadvantaged, but you did not apply for a certificate.

Neither as a prosecutor nor as a judge, nor even since his retirement from the Court, has anyone known your Honour’s father to be at a loss for words.

I am reliably informed and verily believe that his Honour was rendered speechless when, on the day your appointment was announced, you told your father the happy news.

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


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