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Changing of judicial guard after 50-year ‘wild ride’

It was a wild ride, but retiring District Court Judge Julie Dick has finally stepped away from a stellar 50-year career in the law that all started on the back of a motorcycle.

With the departure of Judge Dick after more than 22 years on the bench, veteran prosecutor Jodie Wooldridge was today sworn-in as a worthy replacement who will soon be transferred to a permanent role on the Gold Coast.

Queensland District Court Chief Judge Brian Devereaux SC presided at both Judge Dick’s valedictory on Friday and Judge Wooldridge’s swearing-in this morning in the QEII Courts of Law Banco Court in Brisbane.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again,” Chief Judge Devereaux said. “The continued appointment of highly respected and experienced lawyers with a desire to the serve the community is essential to this court’s purpose.

“Judge Dick brought her direct, penetrating and concise style, with the appropriate degree of empathy, to the judicial role, carving through the work.

“(And) the community may be confident that Judge Wooldridge is yet another such fine appointment. Gifted with equanimity, (Judge Woolridge) has abundantly demonstrated the intellectual and personal qualities of being a judge.”

Judge Dick retires after more than two decades of judicial service, beginning as a District Court judge in 2000, a stint as Childrens Court of Queensland President (2007-2010) and an Acting Supreme Court judge (2011-12).

She commenced her legal career as an article clerk 1972 and went to the Bar at the age of 23 in 1975, taking silk in 1997.

Judge Dick, born in 1952, had an extensive practice in criminal law, appearing in nearly 50 murder trials and many other high-profile criminal matters.

“My life in law started on the back of a motorcycle,” Judge Dick said at her valedictory. “The first day I started my articles, the outgoing articles clerk was told to take me to the Magistrates Court.

“Instead, he took me to the parking lot and handed me a motorbike helmet. I’d never been on a motorcycle before … (and) it was 1972 and I was wearing a miniskirt. It’s been a wild ride ever since.”

Judge Dick was appointed a District Court and Childrens Court judge in December 2000.

Renowned for her no-nonsense approach to sentencing hearings, Judge Devereaux cited an old newspaper article to describe Judge Dick’s unique judicial style.

Judge Devereaux said: “In an article in The Courier-Mail in July 2006 the journalist, having sat in court and watched, and therefore accurately report the proceedings, described briefly Judge Dick’s morning of sentences.

“(The news item said) all four cases were complex and emotionally charged, but (Judge) Dick is a seasoned performer. They were all completed in about 90 minutes.

“The writer later said: ‘She is known for cutting through waffle in sentence hearings – focusing on the real issues to make the process streamlined for everyone involved’.”

In regards to Judge Wooldridge, Chief Judge Devereaux said: “Having joined the Office of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in January 2000, her Honour has already worked in the service of the Queensland community for 22-years.”

A veteran prosecutor, Ms Wooldridge went to the private Bar in September 2003 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in November 2020.

In March this year, she was appointed by the State Government to the role of Queensland Work Health and Safety prosecutor.

Queensland’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Carl Heaton, represented Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman in farewelling Judge Dick and welcoming long-time DPP colleague Judge Wooldridge.

Queensland Law Society President Kara Thomson spoke at both ceremonies on behalf of the state’s almost 14,600 solicitors.

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