Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Queensland Judge Appointed to High Court

Queensland citizens and advocates today celebrate the appointment of Justice Susan Keifel to the High Court of Australia. Justice Keifel is the third female to be appointed to this position, and will share the bench with Justice Susan Crennan, appointed in 2005. Her Honour replaces Queenslander Justice Ian Callinan, who is retiring on 31st August, one day short of his 70th birthday.

In an interview conducted with ABC television news, the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC Chief Justice of Queensland commented that it was important for Queensland to maintain its position on the High Court, to illustrate the on-going role to be played by the State in federal affairs.

Moreover, this appointment, albeit widely considered to fit with the Howard Government’s conservative agenda, illustrates the importance of female presence on the bench.

Justice Keifel famously left school when 15, going to work as a legal clerk at a ‘prominent law firm’ Messrs Fitzgerald, Moynihan and Mack. Keifel gained no ordinary legal training: in 1984 she was awarded a Master of Laws from Wolfson College, Cambridge, with the CJ Hamson prize in Comparative Law. Excelling at her bar exams, she was the youngest female to make silk in Queensland in 1987, whereupon she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1993, and to the Australian Federal Court in 1994.

At a recent lunch-time address to the Australian Academy of Law, of which she is a foundation fellow, reported by The Australian, Keifel J stated:
"Perhaps the time has come for judges to give detailed consideration to their concerns and articulate them. I am not sure solutions will be obvious but clear statements about what is unacceptable in presentation must be a starting point. Case management is not itself the solution."

We wish her all the best for her appointment.

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