Esteemed First Nations silk Lincoln Crowley was today named as Queensland’s first Indigenous Supreme Court judge.
Mr Crowley QC, a proud descendant of the Northern Territory’s Warramunga people, becomes only the second judge appointed to Queensland’s superior courts – behind District Court Judge Nathan Jarro four years ago – and the inaugural First Nations appointment to the higher jurisdiction.
In another first, it is understood Mr Crowley also becomes the first Indigenous person appointed to any Supreme Court in Australia.
In Queensland, the District Court handles the majority of indictable criminal matters and minor civil cases, whereas the Supreme Court mainly deals with more substantial civil matters and only the most serious of crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, piracy and treason.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning used Twitter to announce the appointment of the two judges to the Supreme Court, with Mr Crowley to be joined on the bench by popular and respected barrister Melanie Hindman QC.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman this afternoon told QLS Proctor Mr Crowley’s appointment was a proud and historic day for Queensland.
“The importance of ensuring that our judicial officers represent the diversity of our community cannot be understated,” she said. “This appointment is significant, not only for First Nations Queenslanders but for the Queensland justice system.”
Ms Fentiman, in an earlier joint statement with the Premier, said both Ms Hindman and Mr Crowley were extremely capable and experienced lawyers who were each called to the Bar almost 20 ears ago.
They said the pair brought a significant wealth of experience and expertise to their new roles.
“I congratulate Mr Crowley and Ms Hindman on their appointments,” the statement read. “They are both outstanding individuals who have a lot to offer the Supreme Court of Queensland.
“Mr Crowley has regularly appeared throughout Australia but particularly in Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian courts across a diverse range of matters, especially criminal trials and appeals, since joining the Bar in Sydney in 2003.
“Mr Crowley was also awarded the Australian Bar Association’s 2017 Indigenous Barrister Scholarship and is the current Chair of the Bar Association of Queensland’s Indigenous Barristers Committee.”
Ms Fentiman said Ms Hindman also brought unique expertise to the bench.
“Ms Hindman is recognised as an outstanding practitioner in commercial law, with particular expertise in building and construction litigation,” she said.
“She has been recognised as preeminent in Doyle’s Australia Construction & Infrastructure Senior Counsel list in 2022, and is listed in The Best Lawyers in Australia (14th edition) in Construction/Infrastructure Law.
“Ms Hindman was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2017 and, in addition to her law degree, she has completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (physics) and a Master of Laws.”
Queensland Law Society President Kara Thomson applauded the State Government on both appointments, in particular the first appointment of an Indigenous judge to Queensland’s Supreme Court.
Ms Thomson, speaking on behalf of the state’s almost 14,600 solicitors, said both Mr Crowley and Ms Hindman were exceptional practitioners and deserving of their appointments.
“I would like to congratulate Ms Hindman and Mr Crowley on their appointment as judges of the Supreme Court,” Ms Thomson said.
In relation to Mr Crowley, Ms Thomson said: “QLS welcomes the second appointment of a First Nation lawyer to Queensland’s superior courts.
“The Society encourages both the state and federal governments to continue the advancement of Indigenous Australian’s to higher judicial office in future appointments.”
Ms Hindman will join the bench from Tuesday 30 May, while Mr Crowley QC is scheduled to begin on 13 June.