27 August 2009

The Age of Magistrates -- Does It Matter?

How young is too young? Or perhaps the question should really be how much experience is enough in order to be appointed a magistrate in NSW. This is a question that seems to have struck a chord in NSW with the recent appointment of Ellen Skinner as a magistrate at the age of 33.

Personal opinion, age is but a number. If the committee that selected her and recommended her for appointment believe that she has the skills and qualifications necessary to do the task, then so be it. It does not matter that she is 33 as it would not matter if she was 43, 53, or 63.

The appointment has drawn the ire of the NSW opposition who claim that the process is not transparent and the criteria for appointment are unclear. So, this appointment seemingly represents a case of providing someone the inside running to a career on the bench. This is nothing short of a little bit of grandstanding. By all accounts, Skinner is an accomplished lawyer and a worthy appointment.

The appointment makes Skinner the youngest ever person appointed to the bench as a magistrate in NSW.

Good luck to her and may she have a long and successful career on the bench.


john said...

But by far not the youngest in Queensland. I know of a thirty year old male in the late 1970's. He could have been better, but he did the job. What there was of it in the country at that time.

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for the information. I have not researched the youngest ever angle. I guess whether it is 30 or 34 the general question still applies.

The "issue" if there is one arises because the other magistrate appointed at the same time as Ms. Skinner has 26 years of experience or something like that.

I also guess it is about whether they can do the job in the sense of just getting it done, not getting it done because of their age, and doing it well.

Anonymous said...

I have just been before Magistrate Skinner at Ryde Court on a parking matter, and although I lost, I found her extremely fair and attentive, and not afraid to smile during proceedings. She was also extremely polite throughout the day, thanking witnesses for attending. This was in contrast to the regular magistrate at Ryde, who is a model of severity, rudeness and prejudice. I wish Ms Skinner a long and successful career.

www.lerida-3d.com said...

Well, I do not actually believe it is likely to have success.