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Waving Chief Justice Higgins into the sunset

By johnboy - 13 September 2013 12

Simon Corbell is doing the honours to farewell Chief Justice Higgins from the bench:

The Hon Justice Terence Higgins AO was today congratulated and farewelled by Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, and members of the ACT legal community at a ceremonial sitting of the ACT Supreme Court.

“Today marks the end of a long and distinguished legal career in the Territory,” Mr Corbell said.

“I would like to personally thank the Chief Justice for the dedication and commitment he has shown to the ACT community during his 23 years on the bench of the ACT Supreme Court.”

Chief Justice Higgins was appointed as a Judge of the Federal Court and of the ACT Supreme Court in 1990, and in 2003 he was appointed Chief Justice.

“As Attorney-General, I have enjoyed a productive relationship with the Chief Justice. This has allowed the government and the court to work together to improve the operation of the ACT Supreme Court, including through the blitz and improved court management systems,” Mr Corbell said.

“While the retirement of the Chief Justice marks the end of a substantial contribution to law and justice in the ACT, I am certain that it will not mark the end of the Hon Terrence Higgin’s contribution to our community.

“On behalf of the government, I thank him for his dedicated service and wish him well in his retirement.”

It must have been around 1993 that a callow Johnboy sat on an ACTION bus listening to two recently released convicts trading war stories, planning their visits to brothels, harassing the women on the bus, and reflecting that appearing before Justice Higgins was better than a winning lottery ticket.

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12 Responses to
Waving Chief Justice Higgins into the sunset
IrishPete 9:32 am 14 Sep 13

annus_horribilis said :

IrishPete said :

annus_horribilis said :

My experience of one of his son’s suggests why he might be so forgiving. Although maybe the lenient attitude was the cause rather than the result.

are you sure you don’t mean stepson?

IP

I mean his son

Indeed you did. I was just asking. Someone has responded already that there is a troubled stepson too.

Any raise on son and stepson? Is that the top bid?

IP

Thumper 9:39 pm 13 Sep 13

LSWCHP said :

Good riddance to his graciousness.

This…

annus_horribilis 9:29 pm 13 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

annus_horribilis said :

My experience of one of his son’s suggests why he might be so forgiving. Although maybe the lenient attitude was the cause rather than the result.

are you sure you don’t mean stepson?

IP

I mean his son

Mike Crowther 9:23 pm 13 Sep 13

OK. I have many Higgins stories having had many years cleaning up after his decisions. Possibly my favorite was the time he granted a limited bail to an armed robber. The bloke had pleaded guilty to a string of stick ups and had a record that even in the ACT meant he had to do some gaol time. The bloke didn’t come in easy and had to be run to ground by the police in the first instance. However at a pre-sentence hearing his lawyer asked that the young man be released from custody to visit his termanilly ill father as (sniff) the man will probably be dead before his son is released. The lawyer stressed his clients Aboriginality and was successful. Higgins, who (apparently) didn’t trust the ACT Prison authorities to conduct an escorted compassionate visit, granted bail so that the man could leave the Belco Remand Centre at 10am, and go in the company of his girlfriend (a well known junkie with a NSW record as long as his) and promise to be back by 5pm when the bail would expire. Two weeks later NSW coppers picked him after another string of armed stick ups. As the NSW bench didn’t have a Higgins clone the bloke didn’t get bail again and ended up doing time. The innocent people traumatized thanks to Higgins habit of lactating all over the bench at the sound of a hard luck story would probably be cheered to know that the bloke who robbed them wasn’t Aboriginal, he is Macedonian, and when I retired four years later, his father was still alive and kicking.

Good riddance, about time. I hope the door doesn’t hit him on the way out. On second thoughts, I hope it cracks his ribs.

liability 9:04 pm 13 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

annus_horribilis said :

My experience of one of his son’s suggests why he might be so forgiving. Although maybe the lenient attitude was the cause rather than the result.

are you sure you don’t mean stepson?

IP

Yes, the stepson is a bit of problem, and he still (well recently at least) lived with the Chief Justice.

LSWCHP 8:52 pm 13 Sep 13

Good riddance to his graciousness.

IrishPete 8:38 pm 13 Sep 13

annus_horribilis said :

My experience of one of his son’s suggests why he might be so forgiving. Although maybe the lenient attitude was the cause rather than the result.

are you sure you don’t mean stepson?

IP

annus_horribilis 7:51 pm 13 Sep 13

My experience of one of his son’s suggests why he might be so forgiving. Although maybe the lenient attitude was the cause rather than the result.

Mysteryman 7:39 pm 13 Sep 13

Good riddance.

Perhaps now we’ll get someone who can do that damn job properly.

CraigT 6:50 pm 13 Sep 13

They’re out at dinner right now to celebrate his departure. Let’s hope somebody at the table manages to emit some home truths….

ricci 5:59 pm 13 Sep 13

Higgins was just too soft on repeat offenders allowing them back on the street to steal property and cars and to run down innocent pedestrians.

baldilocks 4:50 pm 13 Sep 13

The vast majority of the community will not mourn Higgins retirement.

My least favorite Higgins story.
Sometime ago I was involved in a protracted civil matter. On the first Tuesday of the hearing, my counsel advised that they anticipated that there would be no hearings on the Friday afternoon. They expected it to go until about midday on Friday when Higgins would duly announce that he had a “prior engagement” that afternoon and so it would have to resume on the Monday morning. Apparently this practice was well known amongst the Canberra legal fraternity (who were too timid to say anything or object) and Higgins would go off for a long lunch with his mates. Given I had to pay for my scheduled counsel’s time on the Friday afternoon, I reckon his boozy lunch cost me about $3 – 4000. I hope Higgins got a few bad prawns for his troubles.

Second story re ACT judiciary. The 3 most senior judicial officers in the ACT are the Chief Justice, the President of the Appeal Court and the Chief Magistrate. Within a relatively short period, the Chief Justice was done for DUI, The President of the Appeal Court was done for DUI, and the Chief Magistrate had a Judicial Commission appointed to enquire into his conduct, but retired due to ill health prior to the commission sitting. I’ll guarantee that no other jurisdiction in Australia, or any other advanced country can match that judicial record, or that the community would tolerate such conduct from the judiciary.

I sincerely wish the new Chief Justice well – but in my opinion she doesn’t have a hard act to follow. At minimum, it is to be hoped that she gives the community something to respect.
The Canberra community deserves better than what we have been receiving from the judiciary.

(Oops – double posted in the wrong thread)

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