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Welcome of her Honour Judge Samantha Marks

Welcome of her Honour Judge Samantha Marks

By LIV Media

Courts 

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May it please the court, I appear on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors of this state to welcome Your Honour as a judge of the County Court.

Your Honour’s appointment fills many with joy, as it also so assuredly fills the position created by the departure from this Court of now-Justice Maree Kennedy to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Few were surprised Your Honour was chosen for this role.    

It is partly recognition of the quality of women in the law and the judiciary, and another reminder of how fortunate the community is to have such dedicated people ready to serve it.

Yet how different this all could have been if Your Honour’s childhood dreams of Audrey Hepburn’s Sister Luke in “A Nun’s Story” had led to vows of virtue, sacrifice and chastity.

The ultimate loser was the Almighty’s flock. When nearing year 12 at Carey Your Honour – please forgive the pun – kicked the habit, as career thoughts turned to medicine.

But just as not being a Catholic sat awkwardly with the sisterhood, flinching at the sight of blood was equally unhelpful to a prospective doctor.          

An avid reader, the prize of books at a public speaking competition enticed Your Honour to enter, and through successful debating experiences the seed was planted.

Law met meaningful goals – satisfying Your Honour’s abiding interest in helping people in a career of substance, with the bonus of being paid to be an advocate.

Disciplined and determined, Your Honour’s first three university years from 1982 were as a live-in student at Trinity College, University of Melbourne – where Your Honour would later return as a tutor.  This education also embraced social activities of college life that included plays and musicals.

The role of the Inquisitor in the production of “Saint Joan” gave an early insight into cross-examination.

After a combined course majoring in English and History, Your Honour took articles in 1987 with Geoffrey Hone in the commercial division at then Blake & Riggall.

Your Honour’s arrival was announced in a staff memorandum that listed university prizes in British history and restrictive trade practices.

Mr Hone says he accepted Your Honour because “I only wanted the clever ones” and today recalls Your Honour as a delight to work with, with a wonderful manner and beautiful handwriting.

There was, of course, a lot of running around in those early days, and not just on the Tan Track at lunchtime.

There were long working hours and late-night taxi trips delivering documents to senior silks - on one occasion being woken outside Jeff Sher QC’s chambers after waiting hours for a conference to end.

A fan, like many, of then popular TV series like LA Law and Ally McBeal, in Your Honour’s words, they did no justice, however, to the enormous and unseen workload in preparation, preparation and even more preparation.        

It was at the bar from 1989 that Your Honour flourished, building an enviable reputation in all aspects of commercial law while mastering a balance of life, family and work.

Your Honour observed several years ago, after being asked what it was like being a barrister, in a filmed interview, a smile pervaded. “How many people have that smile on their face after 23 years in one job?” Your Honour wondered.

That smile was kept there by seeing the expression of pure relief on clients. A treasured letter from one of those clients, who wrote that “we will always tell our children about the barrister who saved us”.        

Whenever solicitor Andrew Cox briefed Your Honour he knew clients were in good hands, their interests well protected, with Your Honour well skilled in pressing a persuasive argument.

In the major case of Lord Buddha v Harpur, Your Honour, for the defendant, was opposed to Mr Cox’s.

Despite the court rejecting the defendant’s evidence, Mr Cox grumbled in genuine admiration at Your Honour’s sophisticated and skilful cross-examination of the plaintiff and closing submissions.  A remarkable win was secured.              

Given such strong forensic skills, it is unsurprising that Joanne Hardwick at Mills Oakley admits to “stalking” Your Honour, not just to act but to also enlist Your Honour as a role model for all practitioners, and particularly women.

A working mother and mentor and major contributor to the profession, Your Honour, who has had six readers, has also been vital to the equitable briefing initiative at the commercial bar.

There are moments in our childhood that can stay a lifetime.

As a 12-year-old at a church camp, Your Honour met a young girl who revealed she was with her sixth foster family. It shocked Your Honour - the memory of that girl has never faded.

With a love of children and helping people, Your Honour has contributed freely to many organisations.

When Your Honour wanted to make a stronger commitment to one, it was Kate Jenkins – now Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner – who suggested Berry Street, Victoria’s largest independent child and family services organisation.

For more than four years, Your Honour has sat on its Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, providing valuable legal expertise pro bono, helping frame support for survivors of past abuse and imparting unique skills and experience.      

“What a great ambassador,” Ms Jenkins says, just one of many who admire Your Honour.

They speak of Your Honour saving crushed people from being trampled, returning a family’s dignity and also delivering unwelcome advice with great sensitivity.

And whether at Law Institute seminars or an occasional blog, Your Honour has provided many valuable contributions, explained new rules, offered advice about social media – a medium Your Honour has embraced.

Now six years a silk, Your Honour has rubbed rosettes with Lord Justices, and reconnected with acting – notably in the production of 12 Angry Men where Your Honour played one of five equally angry female jurors – and taught advocacy in Africa.

It was in Uganda one steaming afternoon, with others who included Judge Montgomery, on the bench this morning, that Your Honour noticed some in the class nodding off.

Your Honour’s brilliant idea of a wake-up call was to have the students stand and sing their national anthem, which they did with passion and perfect pitch.

But the unsuspecting Australian contingent was caught off-guard and that rendition of Advance Australia Fair was not one for You Tube.

On behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria, I wish Your Honour well.  Your Honour is sure to be a pre-eminent voice in this new career. 

May it please the court.  

Contact

LIV Media Department

T: 03 9607 9389
E: media@liv.asn.au

 


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