A respected magistrate last year appointed to head up North Queensland’s Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Circuit Court has been elevated to the second highest office in the state’s magistracy.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman announced last night that Magistrate Stephen Courtney had been appointed Queensland’s second Deputy Chief Magistrate.
Mr Courtney fills the role left vacant when former deputy Janelle Brassington was appointed Chief Magistrate and judge of the District Court – replacing outgoing Chief Magistrate Judge Terry Gardiner, who moved to Queensland’s District Court – in July 2022.
Mr Courtney, who commenced his legal career in 1994, was first appointed a magistrate in October 2017.
Ms Fentiman said Magistrate Courtney had a proven track record as a magistrate over the past six years following a distinguished legal career, including time spent as a Crown prosecutor and barrister appearing in hundreds of jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
“Prior to graduating from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Laws in 1994, Magistrate Courtney served our community as a police officer and police prosecutor during the 1980s,” she said.
“Magistrate Courtney is well qualified to take on this senior role, having previously established the specialist domestic and family violence court in Townsville, Mt Isa, and Palm Island.
“In addition, Magistrate Courtney has been responsible for the Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court since 2021.”
Mr Courtney will join Deputy Chief Magistrate Anthony Gett as one of Queensland’s two Deputy Chief Magistrates. Mr Gett was appointed Deputy Chief Magistrate in April last year.
Mr Courtney was appointed to the Townsville Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court last year and regularly flies to remote areas of Queensland – such as Mt Isa and Palm Island – to bring a specialist approach to domestic and family violence matters.
The appointment also comes more than two months after the Queensland Government put out a call for expressions of interest from legal practitioners seeking a senior judicial role. The Queensland Courts website in July posted a ‘current vacancy’ for the role after the position was left vacant when Judge Brassington became the state’s 34th Chief Magistrate.
Queensland has 102 magistrates – 50 women and 52 men – after the appointment of four new regional magistrates – Mark Bamberry, Patrina Clohessy, Michelle Howard and Kyna Morice – on 25 August.