Never before, never again: Chief Justice of Norfolk Island gets a gig in the Victorian Court of Appeal

Ok, so it’s the man better known as Justice Mark Weinberg of the Federal Court of Victoria, but damn is the man a judge of many courts at once. If I read Deakin University’s staff profile properly, his Honour is concurrently a judge of:

  • the Federal Court;
  • the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island (he sentenced Janelle Patton’s murderer Glenn McNeil to a minimum of 18 years in jail last year);
  • the Supreme Court of Fiji;
  • the Supreme Court of the ACT; and
  • the Federal Police Disciplinary Tribunal.

I cannot think of another Federal Court judge who has crossed over to the Victorian Supreme Court or Court of Appeal. The traffic has been the other way (think Justices Kenny, Nicholson, and Jenkinson).

Punishing as the existing appeal judges say their schedules are, do not be surprised if his Honour just adds the Court of Appeal to his portfolio of judging responsibilities. He presently holds positions at both Deakin and Monash Universities, and was previously the Dean of the University of Melbourne Law School. He has been the Chairman of the Leo Cussen Institute, a long-time member of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. He wrote the Uniform Evidence Law (along with a couple of others).A mandarin I know deep in the innermost sanctum of government tells me that law is coming to Victoria sooner than might be imagined by extrapolating from the glacial pace of progress to date. But it occurs to me that it may well be a smart strategic move to implant into the Supreme Court a Uniform Evidence Law guru, long experienced in its routine application in the Federal Court.

You see, while all courts in NSW, the ACT, and Tasmania and all Commonwealth courts wherever situated, e.g. the Federal Court, Federal Magistrates’ Court, and Family Court (with the possible exception of the in all respects iconoclastic Family Court of Western Australia), use a codified uniform evidence law contained in an Act of parliament, Victorian state courts (e.g. the Magistrates’ Court, County Court, Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and — though it professes not to have a law of evidence at all, if the truth be known — VCAT) still use the same old common law in use in Dickens’s time, modified from time to time by separate state Acts. In fact Justice Byrne spent quite a while explaining The Queen’s Case (1820) 2 Brod. & B. 284 to us in the Bar Readers Course.  The criminal bar gets to use one law of evidence (common law) and the family law bar does too (Uniform Evidence Law) but the commercial bar has to be bilingual. Just to make it complicated, though, certain provisions of the Uniform Evidence Law, including those associated with Commonwealth documents, apply in all courts, as I explained over here.

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2 Replies to “Never before, never again: Chief Justice of Norfolk Island gets a gig in the Victorian Court of Appeal”

  1. Hi
    I was watching the legal proceedings in the Norfolk Island Supreme Court re: Dr John Walsh and the Norfolk Island Bar Assn. SUPREME COURT OF NORFOLK ISLAND

    Registrar, Supreme Court of Norfolk Island v Walsh [2016] NFSC 1

    File number(s): SC 2 of 2016 Judge(s): GILMOUR J Date of judgment: 29 July 2016

    This is fascinating reading but I can’t find the case now. Was it resolved?
    I think the case was to be heard in Adelaide.
    I’m not a lawyer although The Law does fascinate me.

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