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The Secret Lives of Judges

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They may seem intimidating in their robes and wigs, but for the all the tradition and ceremony, ultimately, judges are people too. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about some of Australia’s judges…

Justice Michael McHugh left school at fifteen and held various jobs, including working as a telegram boy and crane chaser, before enrolling in night school and beginning his studies in law at age 22.

McHugh wanted a female judge to replace him on the High Court bench, and Justice Susan Crennan succeeded him in 2005.

Like Justice McHugh, Justice Susan Kiefel also left school at fifteen. She worked as a secretary and later as a law firm receptionist. It was during this time she completed high school and then began studying law at night. She was Queensland's first female silk and was serving as a Federal Court Judge before joining the High Court in 2007.

Justice Isaacs Isaacs had a knack for languages: he could speak rudimentary Russian, German, French, Italian and Greek. He served as a High Court Justice from 1906-1931, before becoming the first Australian-born and first Jewish Governor General. Isaacs refused to take his judicial pension while GG and voluntarily surrendered one quarter of his salary during the depression.

Justice Herbert Evatt was the fifth of eight sons. He had one of the biggest legal practices in New South Wales before he became the youngest High Court Justice at just 36 years of age. He went on to be the president of the United Nations General Assembly and was involved in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Outside the office, New South Wales’ Supreme Court Justices indulge in a diverse range of hobbies. For example, Justice Robert McDougall collects modern ceramics, Justice Peter McClellan grows award-winning grapes, and Justice Peter Young collects model buses. Justice George Palmer, who retired last year, spends his time composing music.

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