WA law reform advocate honoured

February 26, 2013

The Hon Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC (left) and Professor Jurgen Brohmer.

Murdoch University has presented an honorary degree to one of Western Australia’s strongest campaigners for law reform.

The Honourable Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC has dedicated the past four decades of his professional life to the justice system and received national recognition for his unique approach and outstanding contribution to law reform in Western Australia.

The award presentation was integrated into the graduation ceremony which took place on the Bush Court lawns of the beautiful Murdoch University campus.

The oration was given by the Dean of the Law School, Professor Jürgen Bröhmer.

“I am delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to present Chief Justice Martin to our Chancellor and to the University and broader community for the award of an honorary doctorate in law,” Professor Jürgen Bröhmer.

“The Chief Justice has done extraordinary work in reforming the way the judicial system works and in making it more effective and bringing it closer to the people. It is very clearly a most deserved award given by the University that pays tribute to an outstanding career in and exceptional impact on the legal system.”

When appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of WA in May 2006 he vowed to transform and modernise the State’s litigation system.

Since then, Chief Justice Martin has worked tirelessly to make the law more accessible to the general public by reducing the cost, delay and complexity of the system, and to make the courts more relevant to contemporary values and expectations.

Some of his ground-breaking changes have included allowing cameras into courtrooms, providing media outlets with audio recordings of judges’ sentencing remarks and banning lawyers’ wigs.

Chief Justice Martin is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous Australians and continues to passionately tackle what he views as a critical issue for the State – the over-representation of Aboriginal people in WA courts and prisons.

He uses every possible opportunity to draw public attention to the intractable problem and insists that all relevant government agencies give the issue high priority.

After a significant career as a barrister, Chief Justice Martin was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1993 and worked as counsel assisting the HIH Royal Commission in Sydney from 2001 to 2003.

He served as the President of the WA Bar Association from 1996 to 1999 and the Chairman of the WA Law Reform Commission from 1996 to 2001, during which time the Commission completed the review of the State’s criminal and civil justice system.

He was the President of the Law Society of WA in 2006 when appointed to his current position.

Chief Justice Martin received the WA Citizen of the Year Award (Professions) in 2007.

He received the nation’s highest honour in 2012 when appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC). The award recognised his eminent service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly as Chief Justice of WA, to legal reform and education, and to the community.

With a strong belief in the importance of a good education, which was instilled in him by his parents from his earliest days, Chief Justice Martin is delighted to have been involved with the Murdoch University School of Law since its inception, and he looks forward to continuing this association.

Chief Justice Martin was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws on February 21.

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