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Welcome for Judge Rosemary Carlin to County Court of Victoria

Welcome for Judge Rosemary Carlin to County Court of Victoria

By LIV Media

Courts 

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LIV President-elect Sam Pandya welcomed Judge Rosemary Carlin to the County Court of Victoria.

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 Rosemary Carlin as a judge of this court.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present, and to any Elders with us today.

Your Honour’s decision to swap a promising commercial career as a fledgling lawyer to practice crime surprised some.

Articles at Clarke Richards under Richard Byrne went well, yet despite the intellectual challenge, being anchored to a desk and fishing for money wasn’t a satisfying catch or career.

What attracted you was the thrill and theatre of the courtroom ... an interest perhaps fermented in childhood by the American crime and drama TV series Ironside and Petrocelli.

So, from 1985 - as a solicitor with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions – the antiquated City Court in Melbourne staged reality.

It’s hard today to comprehend that accused, victims, witnesses, police, lawyers, staff and even magistrates mingled daily in its open-air concrete courtyard.

Your Honour instructed and appeared in its courtrooms, often in Court Two with its huge wooden bench under the soaring cedar canopy Ned Kelly was sentenced to hang.

Some school and university friends were surprised your life turned to crime, but not shocked.

Mentone Girls’ Grammar friend Jane Kennedy recalls Your Honour as quiet, astute and attentive to detail – with a voice that couldn’t hold a note singing hymns.

But you could hold a pen … bandaged knuckles in Year 12 attested to wholehearted study that produced outstanding results.

University friend now-solicitor Joanna Betteridge equates Your Honour’s switch to crime to being adventurous and undaunted – the challenge adding richness to the experience.

Each friend speaks of your sound, utterly fair traits and judgement.

Six years a solicitor preceded the Bar before appointment in 1998 – with now-Her Honour Judge Quin of this court – as a Victorian Associate Crown Prosecutor.

You became admired for always knowing your case backwards and having a strong command of the law … each refined with an intellectual honesty and disarming curiosity.

Those observations by Crown colleague now Judge Cannon of this court includes one when tasked as junior counsel in a murder trial before then Justice Redlich to take evidence-in-chief from a forensic expert witness.

The nature of such is always tricky as the jury must follow and clearly understand the expert’s evidence and how it relates to the factual matrix of the case.

In your usual polite and understated way, Your Honour methodically elicited the evidence which Justice Redlich complimented.

In fact, His Honour regarded it as the best example of the process he had heard.

But the Bench, of course, can also be unforgiving.

As Crown Prosecutor in the Court of Appeal, Your Honour was once copping a pasting, couldn’t get a word in and was basically over the whole experience.

You were then caught glancing at the clock by one judge who enquired if you had some other place to be … Your Honour replied in a disappointed tone: “Oh no, it’s only 11.30 – I was just hoping it was lunchtime.”

Sally Flynn QC, formerly an OPP solicitor, recalls that Your Honour and other women not only brought expertise but fashion and elegance to the then besuited male-dominated Crown Chambers.

Whether discussing with colleagues in graphic detail a knife wound – that turned a work experience student white - brandishing a baseball at the Bar table or inspiring young solicitors, Your Honour was committed and forever polite.

Now-Judge Elisabeth Armitage of the Northern Territory Local Court remembers well Your Honour’s secondment from 2003 to the Commonwealth DPP in Darwin.

Immediately propelled into trials and appeals, your experience and intelligence impressed all as did your unflappability.

When Your Honour called a witness to an outback rape at night that she observed from a distance, she described compellingly the offence and the accused.

But when asked how she managed to see such detail in those circumstances, she withdrew an item from her pocket, placed it on the bench and said it was her “magic” rock that gave her sight.

Whatever of the ultimate verdict, Judge Armitage would not be surprised if Your Honour secured a conviction.

On return to Melbourne as in-house counsel for the Commonwealth, you notably led the prosecution of Wei (pronounced Way) Tang in the aforementioned first trial under the slavery provisions of the Criminal Code.

The prosecution case was that five women had arrived illegally to work in the sex industry and were required to undertake long hours in a brothel to each repay a $45,000 “debt”.

Then Deputy Director of the CDPP Mark Pedley, now Judicial Registrar of the Supreme Court of Victoria, remembers the case as long and complex.

A first jury was discharged without verdict while the second trial ran a month with guilty verdicts delivered on all ten counts after almost three days deliberations.

Judicial Registrar Pedley says this reflected a conscientiousness and appreciation of the offending against the victims.

The convictions obtained ultimately ensured the CDPP could challenge Tang’s later successful appeal after which the High Court reinstated them.

As a magistrate from 2007, you were intent on making a difference to the community and peoples’ lives.

That continued as a coroner and today Your Honour is impeccably credentialled for this new role.

Years of unrelenting workloads in both roles – the coal-face intensity of the magistracy and the hundreds of ongoing matters a coroner manages at one time – attest to this appointment.

As a solicitor, Kathleen Crennan was Your Honour’s legal assistant at the Coroners’ Court.

She was witness to your exactitude, prodigious efficiency and your reputation for conducting a calm and courteous courtroom.

Analytical, clinical and principled, Your Honour mastered complex medical and factual details and made important recommendations after inquests.

It’s said your mother Elizabeth has been an inspirational role model for you.

We submit, however, that Your Honour has long been a role model for many in and out of the law, and one fashioned impeccably for this new role.

May it please the court.


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